On April 9, 2014, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (“CTCS”) released a notice on domain name registration in China to caution Canadian businesses against fraudulent solicitation emails from unaccredited domain name registrars in China. The notice also provided a useful overview of the current domain name registration framework in China for .cn domain names and other helpful tips for Canadian businesses seeking such registrations. The notice is available at: http://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/eng/document.jsp?did=76359.
The following will briefly summarize the .cn domain names registration system in China.
The regulatory framework for registering China’s country code top level domain names, i.e., “.cn”, is similar to the regime in Canada. The China Internet Network Information Centre (“CNNIC”) parallels the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (“CIRA”) as CNNIC is the only organization authorized by the Chinese government to administer .cn domain names. Like CIRA, CNNIC is also a non-profit organization.
On the CNNIC’s website, the CNNIC lists domestic and oversea registrars that the CNNIC has accredited to process registration applications in accordance with the relevant Chinese laws. The registrars are also bound to adhere to the principles of fairness and “first come first register”. The lists of registrars are available at: http://www1.cnnic.cn/IS/CNym/CNymzcfwjgsq/.
Once an application is submitted to an accredited registrar, the process is relatively straightforward. The registrar confirms two things: the domain name has not been previously registered and the company related to the domain name exists (“Related Company”), since, unlike Canada, .cn domain names are not available for personal users. However, the registrar only checks whether the Related Company exists and does not inquire as to whether the applicant has the proper authority from the Related Company to register the domain name. This has unfortunately in some instances availed the first-to-file system for .cn domain names to opportunistic cybersquatting behaviors.
For such .cn domain name disputes that cannot be circumvented by making a new .cn domain name or by acquiring the name from the registrant, the disputes may be taken to the Domain Name Dispute Resolution Center of China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) or to the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center (HKIAC). The CNNIC officially recognizes the CIETAC and the HKIAC as competent arbitration organizations to resolve .cn domain name disputes according to the Rules of the CNNIC Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.