Have you ever received a letter such as the following:

Dear CEO,

We are the department of registration service in China. There is something we need to confirm with you. We formally received an application on March 26, 2008, from a company which self-styled "Halliton Holdings, Inc" is applying to register "smrh" as internet brand and CN domain names as below:[Name redacted]

smrh.com.tw smrh.hk

After our initial examination we found that the internet brands applied for registration are the same as your company’s name and trademark. We are now investigating this matter and hope to get the affirmation from your company. If your company has not authorized the aforesaid company to register these, please contact us as soon as possible.

In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit for dissent application is ten days. If your company files no dissent within the time limit, we will unconditionally approve the application submitted by "Halliton Holdings, Inc.".

Best Regards

What is that all about?

Above is a typical solicitation letter from domain name registrars in China and Hong Kong. These letters are sent in mass to registrants of .com domains. “Halliton Holdings, Inc.” is a fictitious company crafted by the sender to induce alarm. It is a simple maneuver that often elicits a quick response by the recipient.

The best way to handle these letters is by not responding to the sender since most of the time the claims are fictitious. In fact, the sender probably never bothered to check the availability of the domains mentioned in the letter. It is very likely that some of the stated domains are already sold to third parties. The sender is most likely not a legitimate company and its sole purpose is to solicit business from the recipient.

Although the recipient should ignore the letter, the recipient should not ignore the importance of domain names in Asia. A domain name is often called an “online trademark” and is sometimes a precious intangible (especially with the emergence of the internet). This letter is a good reminder that domain names in Asia are available and should be considered when managing your intellectual property portfolio.

When considering whether to register domain names in Asia, you should first consider your current market as well potential market. If your company is actively doing business in a particular country, it may make sense to register the domain of that country. However, for certain countries your company is not conducting business in, it is still wise to register those domains as a protective measure to prevent others from unjustly profiting from your brand. Registration fees range from about $20 per year for .cn (China) domains to about $200 per year for .jp (Japan) domains. The cost of disputing a prior registration by a third party will be significantly higher.

Domains that are most likely to be stolen by others are the .cn domains. Because of the low registration fees for .cn domain names, third parties often register these in bulk and then put them up for sale on their own. You should always consider registering your .cn domain name as a protective measure.

Online domain name registrars in Asia, vary in size and quality of service. For .cn domains, choose a qualified registrar who is certified by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). CNNIC is the managing organization of “.cn” domain name registration in China.