Beware of the Net Trademark Registration Scam

Beware of the Net Trademark Registration Scam

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I have recently been contacted by a domain registration company (HK N R S) from Hong Kong who said that I would lose my domain name if I didn’t register it with their “net trademark” system.

At first I took this quite seriously however after a bit of googling I found that I am not the only one who has received an email like this. Anyway, I went along with their ploy to see how it would fold out and below you can see some of our email communication… thought I would share this with you guys so something like this does not happen to you.

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You may also want to read about my experience of being banned from my own website or David Airey’s experience of being hacked via the Google Email Phishing Filter Scam.

Dear Just Creative Design,

HK N R S Ltd creates high-impact and professional services for intellectual property right of users. Our center protects company profile and their internet products information by protecting net trademark and domain name.

An organization submitted a formal application to our auditing department to apply for this word “justcreativedesign” as their net trademark on 14 May,2009.

According to the above facts, I send you this Attorney Letter to confirm the ownership rights for this net trademark. We checked that you are real trademark owner. This is why we inform you. You have a priority to register the net trademark. If you give it up, the applicant will get the registration and own it legally for ever. I request that you must make a confirmation in fifteen business days. Fifteen days are our auditing period from the day you receive this letter.

If you wish to gain further information about HK N R S Ltd, its activities and net trademark information, you may view web site at www.hkh.hk.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation about this matter.

Sincerely,

Schacter.ji
[email protected]
www.hkh.hk
HK N R S Ltd

I then replied:

Hello Schacter.ji,

I confirm that justcreativedesign and the trademark is owned by me and I have the ownership rights to it.

Please do not sell or give ownership of this to anyone else. Can you please clarify what you mean by this phrase: “You have a priority to register the net trademark.”? Do I have to register it?

Thanks.

Regards,
Jacob Cass

Then they replied:

Dear Jacob,

Thanks for your reply.

We know you are the trademark owner, so you can register earlier than the applicant. Registering is good for you. Net trademark and trademark are different. Trademark is registered under the government’s check and ratify. If any organizations and individuals didn’t register, you can register. Net trademark can be registered and used openly in the world. First register first get.

In this situation, I offer two ways to deal with this matter:

1.use law to protect your own intellectual property rights. Start a lawsuit against applicant and pass the court’s rule. But it needs lots of time and money.

2.ask us to register for you to protect. You are the trademark owner, so you have the priority to register the net trademark.

Usually we suggest clients choose the second way. Thinking of time and money, the second way is the best.

In accordance with the regulation of our country, we are working for the protection of intellectual property with our clients. Net trademark is part of intellectual property rights, so I strongly suggest that you register to protect this net trademark. If you confirm to register, I will send an application form to you. If you have any questions or requirement, please contact me.

Best regards,

Schacter.ji

I then replied:

Hello,

Can you please send through this form and what country is this for?

And what actually are we registering, just the name “Just Creative Design?”

Regards,
Jacob Cass


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They then replied:

Dear Jacob,

Now I send you the registration procedure and service fee.
The price is 1118USD/one/5years, 2000USD/one/10years, 3680USD/one/20years.

The registration process of net trademark as follows,
1, You confirm to register this net trademark. Then we will send an application form includes a remit account number to you.
2, Fill out application form and send it back to us by E-mail.
3, Once getting your payment, we would immediately repeal the third-party’s application and start your registration. The registration will be finished within 15 business days. After that, we send you net trademark registration certificate.
Please contact us if you have any questions.

PS:Sorry. I can’t offer the applicant’s information because you are not our customer now.

schacter.ji

I have not since replied. I will update this page if anything else comes from it.

Have you ever experienced something like this? Please do share.

51 thoughts on “Beware of the Net Trademark Registration Scam”

  1. This seems awfully dodgy indeed, its something to tread carefully but definitely ask around and see if anyone can give you some advice on this.

    Hope all goes well.

  2. I’ve had several of these myself, and wondered what they were on about, but never ventured any further. Also a few of my clients have asked me about them, after they received them.
    Thanks for sharing what it is about etc. Major scam.

  3. S[pc]ammers seem to be getting wise to the fact that people suddenly become interested when they think their property is at risk. Unfortunately this’ll just continue; some poor old lady owning a cookie shop will be losing money to these nasty s[pc]ammers!

  4. I got the ALMOST the SAME message a while ago. I’m only the owner of “Marcofolio.net” but don’t want others to take over that domain. I don’t care about other domains (marcofolio.ch etc.). Here’s the email convo from 12/12/2008:

    —————————-
    Dear Sir/Madam,
    We are Hong Kong Network Service Company Limited which is the domain name register center in Asia. We received a formal application from a company who is applying to register “marcofolio” as their domain name and Internet keyword on Dec11, 2008. Because this involves your company name or trade mark so we inform you in no time. If you consider these domain names and internet keyword are important to you and it is necessary to protect them by registering them first, contact us soon.

    Kind Regards,
    Alf.Zheng
    Tel: + 852-31757931 ext.8051
    Fax: +852-31757932
    Email: [email protected]
    Hong Kong Network Service Company Limited
    Website: http://www.hknsc.hk
    —————————-
    Hello Alf,

    Thank you for your mail.

    I currently own the “marcofolio.net” domain and I don’t want to sell it / others to use it.

    If that company is interested in using “marcofolio”, you can buy the “marcofolio.org” domain which is also owned by me.

    I would love to hear from you & have a nice day.

    Greetings,
    Marco
    http://www.marcofolio.net/
    —————————-
    Dear sir,

    Thank you for your prompt reply. I ‘m well advised the domain ‘ http://www.marcofolio.net‘ has been registered by your company already. However, the domain name being applied for is not this one. I hereby list all domains being applied for as below for you to review

    1?Domain Names
    http://www.marcofolio.net.cn
    http://www.marcofolio.com.cn
    http://www.marcofolio.com.hk
    http://www.marcofolio.hk
    http://www.marcofolio.tw
    http://www.marcofolio.com.tw
    http://www.marcofolio.asia

    2?Internet keyword

    marcofolio

    If you consider them important to your company, and would like to protect these domain names by registering them ahead, we would send you an application form. If these won’t bring any loss or bad effect to your company, we would confirm their application and finish the registration. Please make a quick decision and inform us, thanks for your support and cooperation.

    Enclosed with the introduction to the internet keyword.

    Best Regards

    Alf.Zheng
    —————————-
    Hello Alf,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I’m not interested in buying one (or more) of the Asian domain names that are effected with the keyword “marcofolio”. You can inform the other company that they can register those domain names if they want to.

    Greetings,
    Marco
    —————————-

    I already thought there was some “fishy” stuff going on here, but still. Pretty weird way to “trap” people like this.

  5. That is absolute bulldust.
    These scammers are getting better and better, well more creative anyway.
    How could anyone in hong kong possibly have any authority over a .com domain?
    This is a new one to me, and ive seen everything from bank scams to nigerian orphanages in the last few months.
    The sad thing is, these scammers often have better customer support than telstra!

  6. HI EVERYONE

    WE RECEIVED SAME FROM SCAM COMPANY IN HK BEAWARE…..YOU WILL LOST

    Dear …… Stones Co., Ltd.,

    China Net Trademark Law Service Center creates high-impact and professional services for intellectual property right of users. Our center protects company profile and their internet products information by protecting net trademark.

    An organization submitted a formal application to our auditing department to apply for this word “pertas” as their net trademark on 15 May?2009.

    According to the above facts, I send you this Attorney Letter to confirm the ownership rights for this net trademark. We checked that you are real trademark owner. This is why we inform you. You have a priority to register the net trademark. If you give it up, the applicant will get the registration and own it legally for ever. I request that you must make a confirmation in fifteen business days. Fifteen days are our auditing period from the day you receive this letter.

    If you wish to gain further information about China Net Trademark Law Service Center, its activities and net trademark information, you may view web site at http://www.hkh.hk.

    Thank you in advance for your cooperation about this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Pilan.Gao

    Email: [email protected]

    http://www.hkh.hk

    China Net Trademark Law Service Center

    Attention?I am writing to clarify and emphasize the absence of any relationship between these two organizations. There is no connection or coalition whatsoever between, China Net Trademark Law Service Center, and the applicant, or between my client and your company. Because the Net trademark takes open registration in China,we checked that the net trademark which another organization apply for registering?is the same as your trademark?

  7. I got this same email a few months back for Arbenting and just ignored it. So far I haven’t heard anything else. I’ll be following your interactions with them though cause I’m curious to see where it will go.

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  8. It’s scary how many people still get sucked in by these things.

    Please stop wasting you energy with this and continue putting it into your fine work on your site.

    I have had numerous of these as well as similar schemes by snail mail.

    Just looking at the discrepancies is a dead give away.
    The applicant gets it forever and you get it for 5,10 or 20 years???? And when the price comes through you’d still consider paying Thousands for something that would normally cost a few teners.

    “…the applicant will get the registration and own it legally for ever.”

    “Now I send you the registration procedure and service fee.
    The price is 1118USD/one/5years, 2000USD/one/10years, 3680USD/one/20years.”

    We have a similar fax scheme happening here, a company claims you have advertised on their site and now your renewal is overdue, please pay immediately or it will be sent to the debt collector. That crowd is being investigated by our governments fraud department and so far we’ve not seen any more, no doubt they’ll resurface in another incarnation.

  9. Sounds familiar. Right now in the US we have something similar going on w/ Robo-calls about our car warranties. Not even 24 hours after I got a new cell phone number, I received a robocall telling me that “this is my last chance to extend my car’s warranty”

    I had to laugh because my car is a 1998 model year meaning it is now 11 years old and the warranty is long over any possible extension.

    The FTC is cracking down on these guys now.

    And Twisty is right, no one in Hong Kong has any authority over .coms. Verisign was the master of all .com gTLDs and will continue to be so indefinitely after they gave up control of .net and .org in a deal with ICANN.

  10. I have worked with Hong Kongnese a few years ago, and I am not surprised that they would send something like this.

    Basically, what the spammer did is already against the law (this is much worse than a simple drug spam) and this type of scam can be considered as Internet crimes (dishonest plus money involved).

    The problem these days is not they getting wiser and wiser, but because we tolerated them along the way, the governments should really do something similar to the piracy laws to actually reduce this type of cyber crimes.

    I found a government site, not sure if is helpful to some of you. http://www.ic3.gov/

    Fight back when you can.

  11. I apologize for this being off topic but:

    Dude you inspire me! This website of yours just gets me pumped up!

    It is so nice to see someone my age rockin’ it on the world stage.

    Recently I’ve decided that advertising is the industry I want to be in, and it is my goal to use your success as a benchmark.

    It is so easy to underestimate one’s value while in University — feel like you have to beg for an internship when you’re done.

    Eff that noise! I’m going to have them come knocking on my door by the end of Uni.

    Keep up the good work bro.

  12. Could it be an idea to see if you can actually register back? So, make a claim that you own the net trademark of something like twitter or somewhere, just to see what their response is?

    It could be hilariously funny, or it could be really bad waters.

  13. I think and I hope that’s only bla bla bla, cause it’ll be terrible.
    I just heard something like that with the new internet extensions like .paris, .sidney etc..
    they target big companies, selling the “new domain” really expensive.

    By the way how did you do to register your trademark? is like register your work, copyright or something

  14. James,
    Why do you call them S[pc]ammers? I must be missing something.

    Marco,
    Thanks for taking the time to share with us your experience.

    Chris,
    You’re welcome and all the best with your career.

    Micheil,
    Probably not a wise idea.

    Luis,
    I wasn’t entirely sure what it was, I thought originally that it could have been another countries law but obviously not.

    Rommel,
    Soon as you get rid of one, another will just pop up under another name.

    Petrik,
    I’ve had a few people thank me for telling them about this (via email) so I don’t believe it is wasting energy, but rather helping others but I do understand what you mean. More focus on design.

  15. Awww, I want to receive an e-mail like this! I want to mess with them for a bit, take them for a ride and tell them that I have a very good lawyer who will look into the matter. I will try to get their mailing address and then report internet fraud (http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx)

    Looking forward to their e-mail…

  16. They also sometimes pose to be from China.

    I’ve gotten a similar email once. I let my domain registrar know about it just so they can track anything like this that may happen to others.

    Here’s my blog post on it – Chinese Domain Name Scam

  17. Wow I cannot believe people would stoop so low!

    I have been silently reading your blog in the background for some months now and have never commented but I feel that this post has given me the nudge I needed.

    I have just started my own personal blog and think its great that you have pointed out this scam to fellow un-suspecting bloggers, I for one will definitely be steering clear of it!

    Thanks again and keep up the good work Jacob!

  18. Thank you sooo much for sharing this Jacob… I got a VERY similar e-mail(s) and thought it was a bit suspect – there was no proper signature, phone contact info etc and the website was dodgy as hell….

    To Peter — don’t feel stupid… I nearly did the same — but the $$$ stopped me and something in my gut !

  19. Man you’ve got to be on your toes now a days. I almost re-financed my home with a company thinking they where legit….that is until panic and backpedaling kicked in!

    Beware!!!

  20. Wow, had this exact same thing happen to me a few months back, they had me hooked.. honestly, the only thing that stopped me was the money they wanted..

    wow i feel stupid!!

    thanks for sharing jacob…

  21. Stephen,
    You would be surprised – this really is nothing compared to some other elaborate scams.

    Hyder,
    Thanks for your link out and warning.

    TBD,
    Thanks for the explanation!

    Alberto, Peter, Jason,
    You’re welcome.

  22. Yup, I received a similar scam email, too. The subject line was “Intellectual Property Rights & Trademark Notice.” They know how to intimidate people by bringing in the “legal” jargon; scary stuff that people usually don’t know a lot about. The domains they were seeking to register were mostly from Asian countries.

    It was really odd that a client of my husband received the same email that day (and a good thing for both of us—confirmed it’s spammy nature in my mind). Good idea to post about this, Jacob, to help get the word out.

    Here were the contact details from mine (just in case people are doing a search!):

    Jkpen
    IT Director

    Auditing Department
    Tel: +852 2297-9279 ( Direct )
    Fax: +852-2297-9209
    Email: [email protected]
    Web: Http:www.eworld.hk

  23. I’m glad i checked this out before falling for their scam. I received a similar email last week. i told her that we’re already in the process just to get her off my back, but then she replied again with the following info.
    ===============
    Dear DoYoon,
    Thanks for your reply. Do you mean your styllautus belongs to another company?
    The trademark owner have the priority of registering net trademark. Net trademark and trademark are different. Trademark is registered under the government’s check and ratify. If any organizations and individuals didn¡¯t register, you can register. Net trademark can be registered and used openly in the world. First register first get.

    In accordance with the regulation of our country, we are working for the protection of intellectual property with our clients. Net trademark is part of intellectual property rights, so I strongly suggest that you register to protect this net trademark. If you confirm to register, I will send an application form to you. If you have any questions or requirement, please contact me.
    Best regards,
    Stacy.huang
    ==========
    after that, she tried to scare me again saying that i only have 15days to decide. after reading this post, i told her that i’ve confirmed that HK N R S is running a scam and that not to contact me again. lol.

    Thanks Jacob for posting this!

  24. Yipee… just got one of these emails.

    I feel like I am now part of the serious design community.

    Hooray.

  25. I so far, have not received such an email, but thanks for the heads up! Checked out one their HKNSC website, and there are just so many little fishy mistakes there that makes you ponder. Will be keeping my eye on this one.

  26. Sorry, I was meant to add that, any website that claims to be .hk (i.e. from HK/created in HK/company based in HK etc) it’s 99% likely that it’s fishy if the chinese is in Simplified Chinese 😉

  27. This is clearly a scam and a big one. Actually as per my knowledge the global TLD’s (.com .net etc) are registered on first come first basis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TLd

    There can be no claims against a name. For example if I own jacobscompany.com and registered it first then you can’t go to ICANN and claim that it is your name and you should own it. That’s not how it works. All you have to do is to wait till it gets expired and I don’t renew it. It then gets released for registration or gets reserved (by third parties) for big money demand upon claim for popular domain names.

    Although the TLD’s of a specific country such as .com.pk, .com.au, .com.ae etc are managed by the local Governments and they allow the facility to claim the domain name if you own the business with the same name. For example if I own jacobscompany.com.pk domain name and “you” have a business in PK by the name Jacob’s Company then you can officially claim that this “should” belong to you by writing them on your company’s letterhead. They will give the domain to you. That’s how it works on country-based domains (as far as my country Pakistan is concerned, I’m not much sure about other countries)

    Maybe the hongkong people used this to fool everyone using a global TLD (.com .net etc). I think there is nothing to worry about. Still if you feel like making really sure you should contact ICANN http://icann.org/ as this is one of just a few organizations that manage global TLDs.

  28. Hi, the same thing has happened to us recently – it was for http://www.hkito.net but i did some research and found that they’ve only been operating for 2 months. They wanted USD$770 to ensure that some other company didn’t use our domain name but if it’s registered to us they can’t do it anyway!

    A couple of good websites for checking scammers
    http://www.who.is
    http://www.dnscoop.com/

    Hope you guys don’t get caught!

  29. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the following message, that I have received twice so far which I think somehow is fake also:

    From: [email protected]

    Dear Domain Holder,

    This message is a reminder to help you keep the contact data associated with your domain registration up-to-date.

    As of October 31, 2003 we are required by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to send you this reminder by the Anniversary date of each registered Domain Name that is subject to the terms and conditions of that organization.

    Below is a list of domain names with your email address listed as the registrant or administrative contact. The current contact information associated with the domain may be verified by following the link provided.

    If any of the contact data is inaccurate, it must be corrected. If you need assistance in accessing your account to make these updates, please reply to this email. If the contact data is accurate, no further action is required to comply with this notice.

    Please remember that under the terms of your registration agreement, the provision of false Whois (contact) information can be grounds for cancellation of your domain name registration.

    Domain Names with Anniversary Dates between August 1 and August 31

    And some doggy links at the end which marked as red flags.

  30. @Roger, this isn’t spam or any sort of trap. This is a simple notice for domain name owners to keep their domain’s WHOIS data up to date and correct. Not keeping the data correct or fake will arise the possibility of cancellation of your own domain name.

    To update the whois of your own domain you may need to login to you own domain name registrars control panel and update the information from there. No need to click any links in the email (There aren’t any)

    If you DO NOT own or manage a domain, it means that someone has used your email address for their domain name’s Admin / Technical / Billing contact information.

    Either way, you need to take action. Either report this to ICANN or keep your whois data up to date.

  31. Same here, got an email from [email protected]. Below is the email from them

    This is HK Net Law Co,.Ltd (www.hkh.hk.cn ), professional provider of application inquiries service and internet intellectual property protection for Domain name registration and Internet keywords.

    We received a formal application from another organization are applying to register ” springworks”on july 30 2009. After investigation, we find that you are the original user of the keyword. As this refers to your company name or trade mark, and in order to avoid the confusion and dispute on the internet, we inform you and would like to know your ideas, Hence we need you confirmation.

    Secondly,If your company have nothing to do with (www.esahmi.cn) another organization , they maybe have other purposes to register these domain names and internet Keyword.

    This is a letter for confirmation. If we haven’t receive your reply. We will automatically confirm application from another organization after this audit procedure.

    Faithfully,

    Paul.li

    Customer Service Manager

    Hong Kong office:
    Tel:+852-30657273
    Fax:+852-30502075
    Address:No.67-71,Chatham Road South,Tsim Sha Tsui,Kowloon,Hong Kong

    HK NET Law Co Ltd
    E-mail:[email protected]

    http://www.hkh.hk.cn

  32. I, too, have received an email very similar to those detailed above. Having lived in HK I am aware of the legal position there (it was my job to know) so thankfully it did not ring true but there was enough in it to make it sound plausible.

  33. Dear Jacob
    I had never face this one. but one time I had a problem with toyota in my car projects.
    thanks. I shared it on facebook.

  34. That was a very planned and clever attack but they probably didn’t know who they are dealing with! 🙂
    Good uncover story!

  35. Fraud has always been a problem, but now that the Internet is more popular, fraud seems to have found a new home. People use to have to worry about phone calls from scammers, and perhaps the unethical contractor, but today’s big worries come from the things that can show up online in a person’s email inbox. Those phone scammers are still around, but most of these types have turned to the Internet to find victims. Apparently, there are a lot of people out there that are easily taken by Internet fraud, and you don’t want to be one of them.*::’

    http://www.healthwellnessbook.com

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  36. I received following message today:

    Dear Sir,

    (If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO,Thanks)

    We are an organization specialized in dealing with Domains dispute and registration in Asia.

    Yesterday, one company named “Kanstech Ltd” applied for the some domains with us, such as dh-shaftsinking.cn/dh-shaftsinking.hk etc.

    We need confirm one thing with you before the registration,did you consign that company to register these? or are they your subbranch or distributor?
    Because these domains are conflict with your trademark,pls contact us ASAP.

    Best Regards,
    Henry
    Auditing Department(HK Office)

    Hongkong IP Network Ltd
    Tel: +852-3069743-4(English) +852-3050694-9(Chinese)
    Fax: +852-3069740-9
    Email:[email protected]
    Web:www.hkipnet.net

  37. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is excellent, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about Email Domain Net Trademark Registration Scam | JUSTâ„¢ Creative .

  38. Glad I found this blog as I got the same email – here’s a copy of it.

    Dear Sir,

    We are an organization of trademark intellectual property protection which authorized by government in Hong Kong.

    On Jun.20.2013, a company named Meteng Group applied for registering some domains about the keyword ” jsconservationplanning ” with us. After checking, we found it conflicted with your name and trademark, so we would like to confirm with you.

    Whether did you consign Meteng Group to register these Domains? Or are they your subbranch?

    Could you confirm by return in time? So we can deal with this matter effectively. Thank you.

    Kind Regards,

    Vivian Lee
    Auditing Department

    Tel: 00852-30697434 (English)
    00852-30506949 (Chinese)
    Fax: 00852-30697409
    Email: [email protected]
    http://www.hkipnet.com

    • Hallo John,

      I did receive the same email as you on the same date with different domain name, of course.
      I had several emails back and forth until …. I happened to be in Hong Kong last week.
      I asked if it was possible to meet them at their office and Vivian invited me for the morning after.
      Well the building directory does not list the company, the management does not know the company, I called several times and they addressed me first at 13 floor of the building but there were two other offices and then confirmed that it was on the 17 floor of the same building (but there were only 15 floors available on the elevator and one extra office on the 16fl. after that it was just open air).
      So, this is just to say you did the right thing not to follow up this scam.

      Have a good one.

      A.

  39. We received this at our business email account last night :
    ___________________________

    vivian
    9:25 PM (12 hours ago)

    Dear Sir,

    We are a senior domain registrar in Hong Kong, specilized in dealing with relevant infringement and dispute event of domain.

    On October.17.2013, a company named Mega Development Group applied for registering some domains about the keyword ” ############## ” with us. After checking, we found it conflicted with your name and trademark, so we would like to confirm with you.

    Whether did you consign Mega Development Group to register these Domains? Or are they your subbranch?

    Could you confirm by return in time? So we can deal with this matter effectively. Thank you.

    Kind Regards,

    Vivian Lee
    Auditing Department
    Tel: 00852-30697434 (English)
    Tel: 00852-30506949 (Chinese)
    Fax: 00852-30697409
    Email: [email protected]
    http://www.hkipnet.com
    ___________________________

    Reported the UCE/SPAM to the following :

    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

    As these are where the UCE/SPAM email as well as the Hosting Service for the website mentioned all originated from.

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