Two weeks ago I had an email exchange with "Jeff Zhang" of email@example.com, or so it seemed. His first sentence was: "This is Shanghai Long Yu Information Technology Co. Ltd which is a professional domain name registration and service company in China." I noted the "cn" in the email address, being for China. I checked, www.longyu.org.cn but it led to nothing.
The email claimed that "Efid Investment" was seeking to register www.dilanchian.com.cn. "Mr Zhang" said he'd checked and noted an apparent conflict with our firm's name. He asked if we'd authorised "Efid Investment" to register dilanchian for the .com.cn domain name for China.
It was a well-written email. I replied saying no such authorisation had been given and that everyone in the world with the Dilanchian surname is my relative.
His response arrived quickly. It was one sentence, a question with no question mark at the end: "What's your company viewpoint about Efid's application". I had thought I'd made myself clear, my BS antenna went up. I waited.
Two hours later he sent me a longer email. He claimed he'd made further contact with "Efid Investment" and that it insisted that it's application should be registered. The email ended: "If you don't want to protect your intellectual property rights by registration, I will approve the Efid application. Hope you understand." A lightbulb turned on. Yes, I thought, I understand perfectly.
Today one of our trade mark clients received a similar email, this time from a "Robert Ma" with a Hong Kong email address. I had no hesitation in immediately advising it was a scam.
This evening I searched the web. There is plenty of evidence of this scam since 2006.
Call me if you have concerns about trade mark scams, domain name or trade mark registrations abroad, or IP rights in China. We do work for markets in China and Ai Ling is fluent in Mandarin.
UPDATE: 28 July 2009. From our desk we believe the above type of scam is now increasing in its use. We have evidence such scammers scour the trade marks register of IP Australia to find contact details and background information on who to try to con about name protection.