Friday 14 September 2012

At last - official recognition from cyber squatters?

It must be a sign that you have arrived when you get a letter from someone you’ve never heard of explaining that your website’s name is so popular that someone else wants to register a variant of it.

Or perhaps it’s just a cyber squatting con.

Let me explain.

To put this issue in perspective, I ought to confess that I’ve recently dealt with an email from “John Byng” of John originally wrote to me to explain that an internet domain name used by the Data Protection Forum was of interest to someone who wanted to register it in China – but that he could arrange for this to be stopped, if I wanted. As I’m the Co-Chair of the Data Protection Forum, the Forum administrator asked me for advice.

Here’s an example of the sort of stuff John wrote:

“Based on your company having no relationship with them, we have suggested they should choose another name to avoid this conflict but they insist on this name as CN/Asia domain names (.asia/.cn/ and internet keyword on the internet. In our opinion, maybe they do the similar business as your company and register it to promote his company.

According to the domain name registration principle: The domain names and internet keyword which applied based on the international principle are opened to companies as well as individuals. Any companies or individuals have rights to register any domain name and internet keyword which are unregistered. Because your company haven't registered this name as CN/ASIA domains and internet keyword on the internet, anyone can obtain them by registration. However, in order to avoid this conflict, the trademark or original name owner has priority to make this registration in our audit period.

If your company is the original owner of this name and want to register these CN/ASIA domain names (.asia/.cn/ and internet keyword to prevent anybody from using them, please inform us. We can send an application form and the price list to you and help you register these within dispute period.”

My instincts were aroused when John mentioned application forms and price lists – can this be for real, I thought to myself. So, in my capacity as Co-Chairman of the Data Protection Forum, I ignored it.

Today, returning from a meeting in town, I see that another email has arrived in my in box. This time, rather than referring to the Data Protection Forum, it seems that the very same “John Byng” of wants to let me know that my internet domain name “” was of interest to someone who wanted to register it in China. I expect that if I reply to this email, John will write back to explain how he could arrange for this to be stopped, if I wanted.

This is the text of today’s email:

“Dear Manager,

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

This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration in China. We received an application from Hanson Ltd on September 10, 2012. They want to register " martinhoskins " as their internet keyword and China/Asia (CN/ASIA) domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best Regards”

So, should I reply, or should I not?

Please send your answers, wrapped around a bottle of gin, to the usual address.