Wednesday, December 17, 2008

International TM and Domain Names

Just a quick note on international domain names and trademark issues. 

First, it is becoming more and more common that finance departments are receiving billing from various entities claiming to be the "Register of International Patents and Trademarks" for some small European country. The letters originate from these countries, usually ask for between $2-3,000, and in most way's, do look like an invoice from a government agency.

However, upon inspection, these letters are merely an offer to be listed in a directory of patents and applications and are not affiliated with any government agency. So while it may look like one is paying to be published in some foreign equivalent of the Federal Register, it is in fact, nothing of the sort. And while most every IP professional will catch this immediately, it might be good to let your finance department know that these kinds of documents are floating around out there.  

Second, there has been an uptick in unsolicited e-mails from individuals claiming that third parties are trying to register your domain names in China, Hong Kong, and the like, and that they are contacting you out of courtesy to see if you would like to register them instead. Below is a sanitized version of an actual note:

Dear Manager,

We are OOOOOO, which is the domain name register center in China. I have something need to confirm with  you.    

we have received an application formally,one company named "XXXXXXXX" applies for the domain names (various domin names)  and the internet Brand Name(company name)on the internet Nov 19, 2007. We need to know the opinion of your company, because the  domain names and keywords may relate to the usufruct of brand name on internet.
we would like to get the affirmation of your company,please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible. Please let  someone in your company who is responsible for trademark or intellectual right contact me freely. 

 Best Regards, 


Sponsoring Registrar:


While there is typically no veracity to these solicitations or claims, these notes usually end up going to high level managers or directors and will bring immediate attention to whether or not you have coordinated with your companies IT department and made sure all your domain names are, in fact, locked up. 

Being prepared for things like this can prevent small annoyances from becoming major time-sinks.