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    Domain disputes
2005-11-14 06:37

Internet search engine company Google could be facing new disputes over its .cn domain names just several months after it spent nearly 1 million yuan (US$123,456) to register and

Data from the China Internet Information Centre (CNNIC) shows that although Google registered as soon as it globally launched its Gmail e-mail service in April last year, another relevant .cn domain name,, has been registered by a Beijing-based company.

Now the key question is whether Google will apply for arbitration or be forced to buy it back.

It's unlikely that the company could get the domain name through arbitration or lawsuits unless it could show that the second party was registered it with malicious intent, says Hu Gang, a legal expert in internet disputes.

"That domain was registered in August 2003, far before Google developed Gmail," he says.

Hu says Google will definitely not be willing to let its worldwide brand be used by others.

Statistics from the CNNIC show that is not the only domain name that Google failed to register. Other speculators have cashed in on the company's ignorance of .cn domain name protection. A number of .cn domain names relating to Google's well known online products, such as Google Talk, Google Earth and Google Local, have been registered by others.

A company in South China's Guangdong Province registered and in March 2004. Google only presented its Local localized search service to the Chinese market a few weeks ago.

Some of Google's domain names, including and, were quickly registered shortly after the US-based company's purchase of other .cn domain names. and were registered around the same time Google officially launched its Google Talk service.

"The low cost of registering and the high potential payback have made variations on Google's .cn domain names 'investment targets'," Hu says.

He suggests that any companies that might eventually rapidly expand should implement comprehensive .cn domain protection as soon as possible.

"It takes only several thousand to 10,000 yuan (US$1,235) to register hundreds of .cn domain names," he says. "That's just a small sum for large companies."

It can save them a lot of time and money, however, when they discover that they have lost a domain name.

"Some foreign companies are doing a pretty good job of protecting their online brands," he says.

Deutsche Telekom AG, for example, has not yet entered the Chinese market, but the company has already registered over 100 domain names.

Hu says that the German company's established domain name protection system identifies infringement risks before it enters a market.

"Enterprises can also learn from the example of Samsung," he says.

Earlier this year, the South Korean company registered approximately 470 .cn domain names. The effort covered many of the company's brands, sub-brands, officials' names, and any words that could damage the company's reputation.

"It is becoming standard procedure," Hu says.

(China Daily 11/14/2005 page9)


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