Monday, August 30, 2010

Who owns UCDavis (& other University Names) in various Web Domains?

Well, this is awkward.  But apparently, some domain name registrars in China think I am the person to write to regarding UC Davis domain name issues.  Am I that high up in web searches somehow?  Perhaps I am if you do not use google, or maybe even if you do (I guess, perhaps most of the high hits to UC Davis are not people ... just web sites).  Anyway this is the email I just got:(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward to the right person/ department, as this is urgent, thank you.) 

Dear CEO,
We are the department of registration service in China. we have something which needs to confirm with you. We formally received an application on  August 26h  2010. One company called "Napa International, Inc." is applying to register "ucdavis     " as Brand name and domain names as below:  
After our initial checking, we found the Brand name and domain names being applied are as same as your company! So we need confirmation with your company. If the aforementioned company is your business partner or your subsidiary, please DO NOT reply us, we will approve the application automatically. If you don't have any relationship with this company, please contact us within 5 workdays. If over the deadline, we will approve the application  submitted by "Napa International, Inc " unconditionally.
Best Regards
Rensis Ho
Not sure if this is a scam of some sort or not so I figured I would post.  Anyone seen anything like this before?  If it is not a scam, does this mean they really think I am the CEO of some UC Davis brand?  

Another question is - if this is not a scam - can places register a domain name using someone else's trademark?  What is the protection for domain names outside the US?

Anyway - am forwarding this to people at UC Davis who I hope can answer the email ... but am wondering how much I can sell the UC Davis brand name for in various places ... could be a good fund raising opportunity


  1. Yes, I have received two such emails:

    Dear Manager:

    We are a Domain Name registration service company, which is a professional Internet Domain Name Registration and dispute resolution organization in China.
    On August.25th,2010, We received HAITONG Investment company's application that they are registering the name " genebio " as their Internet Keyword and " genebio .cn "、" genebio " 、" genebio .asia "domain names etc..,It is China and ASIA domain names.But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so I am sending you this Email to check.According to the principle in China,your company is the owner of the trademark,In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!

    Best regards,

    Oversea marketing manager
    Tel:+86(0)21 6191 8696
    Fax:+86(0)21 6191 8697

    and previously, this:

    Dear CEO & Principal,

    We are a domain name registration and dispute organization in Asia, which mainly deal with the global companies' domain name registration and internet intellectual property right protection.Recently, we have a very important issue needing to confirm with your company.

    On Aug 13, 2010, we received an application formally. One company named "Awolves Holdings Ltd " wanted to register the Network Brand " genebio " and some domain names through our body.

    Now we are handling with the registration of these domain names and find that the keyword of these domain names and Network Brand is identical with your company's. According to our technique department's investigation, Awolves company does not have prior rights to this keyword but you do. So we have to confirm with you at two points:
    1. If your company consign Awolves company to register these domain names and Network Brand , we will send application form to them and help them finish the registration at once.
    2. If your company have nothing to do with Awolves company, they maybe have other purposes to register these domain names and Network Brand.

    We have suspended their application and can not proceed before we get your confirmation. If you are the corporate representative of your company, please reply this email and I will feedback some problems to you; If you are not, please forward my message to the right person soon. In order to deal with this issue better, please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.

    Best Regards,

    Aaron Zhang
    Auditing Director
    Tel: +00852-8135-9178
    Fax: +00852-8135-9278

  2. Oh, and for info, I work at GeneBio:,

    I am interested to know if this is a genuine request.

  3. I'm guessing it's a scam -- the sender wants to push *you* into registering the domain with them.

    I got one several weeks ago, and the domain that they claimed was being registered still has not so been.

  4. I don't think there is anything stopping people from registering domain names even if they include any form of brand name or registered trade mark. It would be up to the company or individual to take legal action to get their domain name back. Presumably this gets harder when dealing with internationally registered names.

    None of these domain names have any sort of holding page which is more common when someone is cybersquatting on a domain name. I also checked with an Indian domain name registrar and it said that was not found as a registered name. This suggests to me that this is a scam.

    However it raises the issue of how much should UC be expected to protect its brand. With ~250 different top level domains, should UC Davis be registered with all of them? That is quite a cost...especially if you multiply by all UC campuses. I'm very curious as to whether the 'sex' domain name of .xxx gets granted. If so, do companies have to register this just to stop someone else maliciously associating them with sex?

  5. I've gotten this before. It's a scam. Google "China Domain Name Scam" and you'll get lots of hits.