Intellectual Property Attorney

Beware: Domain Name Registration And Trademark Scams Continue To Haunt Trademark Applicants And Brand Owners

We have seen an uptick recently in scammers targeting brand owners. Typically, scammers target potential victims through emails from seemingly “official” foreign government departments or entities that declare another individual or entity is attempting to claim rights in and to the victim’s brand, either by applying to register for trademark protection or attempting to register a domain name. Scammers invent various “official” sounding names to dupe potential victims. Recent examples have included “CN Network Solutions Ltd.”, “China Domain Name Registration Center” and “Asian Domain Registration Service in China”. There are numerous other examples.

The precise form of the correspondence can vary greatly. Here is an example similar to one recently sent to a brand owner:

(Letter to the President or Brand Owner, thanks)

Dear President,

We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on September 20, 2013 that a company which self-styled “ZYX Global” were applying to register “your brand” as their Brand Name and some domain names through our firm.

Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company’s, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we will finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 work days, so that we will handle this issue better. Out of the time limit we will unconditionally finish the registration for “ZYX Global”. Looking forward to your prompt reply.

Note that the email is poorly written which is one of the telltale signs that the email is most likely from a scammer. Through these types of emails, scammers attempt to engage the potential victim in a dialogue intended to pressure them into making payments to the scammer. Besides emails, potential victims have received invoices, forms and other materials.

In another type of scam, scammers target potential victims that have recently registered trademarks with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Here as well, scammers use “official” looking entity names. Instead of claiming that a bogus entity is attempting to assert rights to the trademark, these scammers attempt to solicit payments for intellectual property related legal services, trademark monitoring services, anti-counterfeiting enforcement measures (such as registering the trademark with U.S. Customs & Border Protection) and for inclusion in private registries and databases of trademarks. As noted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, these entities have used “official” sounding monikers that incorporate terms such as “United States,” ” U.S.,” “Office,” and “Agency” in order to confuse the potential victims into believing that the entities are associated with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office or a government entity. However, all official correspondence from U.S. Patent & Trademark Office will be listed as coming from “United States Patent and Trademark Office” or by email with the domain name “”.

The following are a few helpful, practical tips to bear in mind:

  1. Don’t sit in silence. When you receive one of these scams, immediately forward it to your attorney. We encourage our clients to openly communicate with us whenever they receive a communication of this type directed to their brands. An attorney can help confirm whether the communication is a scam and can also take steps to alert the appropriate legal authorities, if necessary. We use such notifications to build a working knowledge of the threats to intellectual property in the marketplace. We believe in striving to stay well-ahead of the scammers.
  1. Look for the obvious. As a result of the massive scale upon which some scammers operate (e.g., sending out thousands of emails to coax even a single response), scammers often make obvious, telling mistakes. Carefully examine the correspondence for grammatical errors and other obvious mistakes, such as misspelling of your brand, your website URL or your name.
  1. Don’t be a victim: Educate yourself. Sometimes the best “offense” is a good “defense”. We encourage brand owners to remain vigilant and aware of how scammers may be approaching them. This is an essential part of an overall strategy to recognize, prevent and respond to potential threats to valuable intellectual property rights. By preemptively engaging in education, a brand owner will be better prepared to recognize threats and to take swift action.
  1. Take action: Investigate. Hopefully a brand owner has done their research and when a scammer comes along they are so well educated that they can quickly investigate the potential threat. Examine the name of the person sending the email, their website, their organization and the content of their email. Sometimes even a quick search through Google can easily confirm whether a correspondence is a scam.
  1. Be vigilant. Always be on the lookout. Threats to intellectual property and scams occur every single day.

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Grimes LLC