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Beware Unsolicited Trademark Emails

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September 2009 | Legal Advisory

Some of our readers will remember the “Nigeria oil scam.”  An email came supposedly from a junior clerk in the Nigerian oil ministry who needed help in wiring $25 million in oil revenues out of the country to a U.S. bank. The email recipient would get 10 percent if he or she set up a joint bank account in the U.S. to receive the funds, but first the clerk needed $25,000 on her end in Lagos to set up her transferor account, pay fees, etc. The recipient would be asked to oblige with a $25,000 wire transfer to a specific individual in her country.

A similar scheme is now being attempted in the domain-name business in Shanghai, China.

It works this way:  the fraudster in China sees that someone owns a trademark registration (in China or elsewhere) and emails the owner that someone else is trying to register corresponding domain names or buy corresponding keywords in China. The unsolicited correspondent asks whether the owner of the overarching trademark wants to jump in ahead of the mysterious applicant and use his services. The trademark owner panics, and engages the correspondent to make pre-emptive purchases of . . . nothing. Victims of this scam send money and get domain name registrations they don’t need, or pay registration fees to someone who is not a registrar.

A better idea, if you get one of these emails from China, is to ignore it and not reply.

This advisory was prepared by Nutter's Intellectual Property practice. For more information, please contact your Nutter attorney at 617-439-2000.

This update is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. Under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered as advertising.
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