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I'm a small U.S. business and a company in China contacted me to say they want to use my domain name as their own and also make it their internet keyword. The name is not trademarked.

Don't I have legal exclusivity rights to this domain when I paid the annual fee? How should I respond to them? I do not want them to take it.

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I've seen some scams where you get emails saying "XXX company wants to register <domain similar to yours>, which appears to be similar to your brand. If you want to register them contact us within X days" - I think you can safely ignore these –  Tim Fountain Jan 9 at 14:45
    
I wouldn't respond at all. Unless it's trademarked, or there's a pending trademark filing, in your country - or you've registered the domain with false contact information and in bad faith (i.e., in attempt to divert traffic), then there's little they could do. Most legit attempts to acquire a domain by a company with purported rights to it will come from a verifiable attorney's office or through a UDRP filing. –  dan Jan 10 at 1:45
    
On the other hand, if you find they are willing to pay a lot for it :-) consider selling it to them. It may be worth lots. ?? –  Eliptical view Jan 14 at 16:02

2 Answers 2

I would be sure to do a lot of research on the party sending you these emails. I'm not going to state they are all fake but I've received numerous fake domain requests from parties who claim to either be: A trademark holder, a domain registrar working on behalf of a customer wanting to purchase a domain similar to yours, or a brand name holder.

I've attached an example of what a fake might look like:

(Letter to the President or Brand Owner, thanks)

Dear President,

We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on Aguest 21, 2013 that a company which self-styled "FDH Global Ltd" were applying to register "~REMOVED~" as their Brand Name and some domain names through our firm.

Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company's, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we will finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we will handle this issue better. Out of the time limit we will unconditionally finish the registration for "FDH Global Ltd".Looking forward to your prompt reply.

If it is a legitimate request, for the most part if you have registered the domain name before they have registered a trademark on that name then your domain is safe. Though there are plenty of other variables to consider if such a case were to go to the courts, such as if and how the TLD was used, if the domain was created in "Bad Faith" towards the requesting party, and more...

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If you registered the domain name before them, it's your own (at least for every year you renew the domain) even if your brand hasn't been trademarked.

That's why you can keep the domain name if you want to. If the company in China wants your domain name and you're ready to release it in exchange for money, you could sell it to them.

However, be careful of spam email scams, it's a regular practice.

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