A new scam has emerged directed at owners of domain names in the
UK. Previously, individuals posing as domain name registrars in
Asia have tried to deceive the owners of trade marks and of domain
names into buying a series of domain names with suffixes such as
.com.cn and .asia. The bogus registrar purports to have had
instructions to register the victim's name.
In a new departure, the initial approach is made by telephone
rather than by email. This is of concern since a victim has time to
read and absorb the information being given in an e-mail, and can
readily forward the email to IP advisors if concerned. When taking
a phone call, there is less time to establish that the call is
fraudulent. Contacted by phone, domain name owners may be more
likely to believe that they are under threat and to agree to
purchase a similar domain name registration in these
In a call to our office, the caller claimed to be a domain name
registrar who had been contacted by a third party interested in a
domain name similar to that owned by the person or company
called. She went on to claim that the third party
was in the process of applying for both a .com and a .co.uk domain
name very similar to this firm's, and that she was obliged to
inform this company as it was a "trading name". When
questioned, the caller said, falsely, that there had been a change
in the rules governing domain name sales. Superficially she was
Our investigations show that this scam is relatively new to the
UK, with Internet discussions concerning the modus
operandi dating back only to November 2011. We advise, as do
Patent and Trade Mark Offices worldwide, that rights owners should
be extremely wary of any unsolicited invoices and or requests
received from unknown third parties to pay money for domain name
registration. Given that fraudulent approaches are now being
made by telephone, rights owners must be even more careful.
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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There is no doubt that a strong intellectual property (IP) portfolio can offer an emerging business security from more established companies, as well as add value through which investment may be secured.
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