A poisoned ‘gift’: domain name fraud by TM Benelux

30 December 2021 | Domain name, Intellectual property

A few weeks ago deJuristen came in contact with domain name fraud. If you are not aware of the rules for registration of domain names, it is very easy to fall into the trap of domain name fraud. It is therefore a practice that is regularly encountered in the entrepreneurial landscape. That is why we take a closer look at this dubious practice in this blog.

Registering a domain name

An example of a domain name is dejuristen.be. A domain name can be registered, provided of course that the domain name is still available.

Registration takes place via a registrar, against payment. The registrar you choose sends the necessary details to the registry. The registry eventually registers your domain name without further intervention and for one year.

Domain name fraud

There are also various ‘companies’ that are actually nothing more than disguised domain name scammers. deJuristen was contacted by ‘TM Benelux’, for example. These fraudsters often work in the same way.

The (non-existent) third party?

A ‘company’ tells you that a third party wants to register a domain name through them which is very similar to yours (in our case, it was dejuristen.net).

If this third party does register the domain name, this could cause confusion for your customers and even damage your company’s reputation. Sometimes they mention that it is their “legal duty” to report this to you.

TM Benelux as a lifesaver?

Next, they offer you the chance to register the domain name in question yourself, usually for 10 years, and of course through them.

Here too, they sometimes claim that it is your “legal right” to be the first to get the chance to register the domain name. If you don’t accept the offer, then they will continue the file with the third party, and the domain name will most likely be registered by the third party.

A deceptive offer

If you accept the offer, they might actually register the domain name for you. But the price of the offer is many times higher than the market price for registering a domain name.

Moreover, you can only register domain names for 1 year and then renew them each time. So, if you accept the offer to register your domain name for several years, you needlessly pre-finance this middleman, who will probably soon be gone.

By the way, why would you be tempted to register a domain name for several years when it is not necessary? This makes no sense at all.

Because let’s face it. That third party never existed. And even if this third party did exist: you have neither a “legal right” to be the first to register the domain name in question, nor does the “company” that contacts you have the “legal obligation” to notify you of this.

Conclusion: decline!

The conclusion is simple: never accept this offer of domain name fraud by TM Benelux and others. If you do, you will lose your money for nothing.

If you are in any doubt, first contact a specialist or the registrar of your domain name, before you commit to something you will regret later. You can then calmly analyse whether you really need that domain name and, if so, register it through your usual registrar, for one year and at normal prices.

Do you think you have come across domain name fraud? Or do you have further questions about domain names? Contact us at hallo@dejuristen.be! We can also help you with a broader strategy concerning the protection of your brand, trade name and domain names.

Written by Sofie Moore , Legal Adviser deJuristen, and Kris Seyen, Partner deJuristen

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