All Google's CN domain names registered by others
"Gmail.cn", the domain name for Gmail in China, has been registered by a Beijing-based company instead. Gmail is a key product of Google.
In fact, almost all the CN domain names for Google's such products have been registered by others.
Launching Gmail in April 2004, Google registered "gmail.com.cn". However, gmail.cn was registered by a Beijing-based company as early as in August 2003.
Experts say, the time of the registration of "gmail.cn" was far earlier than the debut of Google's Gmail, so the possibility for the CN domain name to be recovered is rather slim unless the registration was vicious.
Months ago, Google recovered two domain names, i.e. "google.com.cn" and "google.cn" at high prices, but its troubles are far from this. It is shown at China Internet Network Information Center that the CN domain names for GoogleTalk, Google Earth, Googlelocal, etc. have all been registered by others.
Among the investor registers, there is the far-sighted such as a Guangdong-based company, who registered "googlelocal.cn" and "googlelocal.com.cn" in March 2004, far earlier than the one-week old GoogleLocal.
There are also others who did it after the news on Google's redeeming the domain names with one million yuan was released. They registered "googlemap.cn" and "googleearth.cn". The time of the registration of "googletalk.cn" and "googletalk.com.cn" was along side with the official appearance of GoogleTalk. It is really surprising that the registers could be so precise and fast.
People's Daily Online
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 google.com.cn and google.cn.
Data from the China Internet Information Centre (CNNIC) shows that although Google registered gmail.com.cn as soon as it globally launched its Gmail e-mail service in April last year, another relevant .cn domain name, Gmail.cn, 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 gmail.cn 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 Gmail.cn 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 googlelocal.cn and googlelocal.com.cn 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 googlemap.cn and googleearth.cn, were quickly registered shortly after the US-based company's purchase of other .cn domain names.
Googletalk.cn and googltalk.com.cn 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)