Registering a Chinese domain name can be an important step for any company wishing to establish a foothold in the Chinese market. Companies considering Chinese domain name registration need to be aware of Chinese registration and administration practices to ensure that their domain name is properly registered and receives protection.
The China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) administers Chinese domain names with ".cn", ".org.cn" and ".net.cn" suffixes. Part of CNNIC’s role is to oversee domain name registration services through appointing authorised domain name registrars. Domain name applicants deal directly with these appointed registrars who determine the availability of the proposed domain name and process the registration application for a fee.
Recently, some Chinese domain name registrars have been approaching Australian companies to solicit domain name applications under seemingly false pretences. Their practice is to contact a company, advise that an application has been received for a Chinese domain name incorporating the Australian company’s name or trade mark and request the company to contact them to discuss the issue. The registrars attempt to convince the Australian company to register a Chinese domain name to prevent it from being registered by a third party.
These Chinese domain name registrars are authorised by CNNIC. However, their practices are questionable given that it appears that no third party applications are actually being made (or if they are being made, the applicant is most likely a company somehow associated with the registrar). The Chinese registrars involved are monitoring trade mark applications lodged in China and targeting Australian applicants on the basis that their trade mark applications indicate an interest in China, making them a more likely target.
Any company with an interest in China should consider registering a Chinese domain name. This is particularly the case where third party registrations have the potential to significantly erode the company’s rights or ability to do business in China. However, companies contacted directly by Chinese domain name registrars should remain mindful that all might not be as it seems. There is no obligation to deal with a particular registrar and, in most circumstances, it is best not to encourage registrars engaging in direct solicitation by offering a reply. A variety of authorised Chinese registrars are available online and a company interested in registering a domain name in China should use the registrar of their choice. Seeking professional assistance with the application may also be an appropriate option, particularly if the circumstances are suspicious.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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