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Groupon accuses the clone of domain squatting and attempting to force an acquisition
I bet you were wondering why Groupon doesn’t have an office in Australia. And I bet you thought it was because they’re afraid of snakes.
That could be true, but they’re not copping to it (that’s why I don’t have an office in Australia). Rather, the reason that Groupon has not taken over Australia along with every other continent in its march toward world domination is because a doppelganger has already taken its place. Not one to be trifled with, Groupon has filed a lawsuit.
In a classic case of domain-name squatting, Scoopon, a Groupon clone based just outside of Melbourne, bought the Groupon.com.au domain name, claimed the company name Groupon Pty Limited, and even filed for the iconic Groupon trademark a mere seven days before Groupon did. No doubt Scoopon’s founders, brothers Gabby and Hevi Leibovitch, anticipated Groupon’s move into Australia and decided to turn a profit off of it.
But the story gets better. Prepared for just such a scenario, Groupon offered the brothers $286,000 for the domain name and trademark, which the brothers initially accepted, but then changed their minds and rejected the offer. In the Groupon blog, Andrew Mason writes that it’s Groupon’s belief that the brothers will settle for no less than a full-blown acquisition of Scoopon by Groupon, and they’re going to hold the domain and trademark hostage until their demands are met.
The four-year-old Scoopon claims to have a base of “tens of thousands” of subscribers and also owns and operates catchoftheday.com.au. Between the two, Scoopon claims to have over 500,000 members and 100,000 unique visits per day, making it Australia’s number one website.
The legal battle between Groupon and Scoopon has been going on for several months now. Groupon filed an intellectual property action in a federal court in Victoria, Australia in August, which is due for mediation on January 21. Groupon has also filed a trademark infringement claim against Scoopon in an Illinois court.
In the meantime, Groupon has planted its foot in Australia under the temporary name Stardeals. The Stardeals website currently isn’t offering any deals, but it is currently accepting subscribers and plans to begin offering deals within the next month. As the lawsuit against Scoopon could take more than a year to resolve, Groupon could be using the Stardeals name for quite some time.
In a note to Groupon customers, Andrew Mason writes: “If you’d like to see Groupon grow in Australia, show your support by joining the “Groupon in Australia” Facebook Group, and post a note for Hezi Leibovich, politely asking them to accept the $286,000 (which we are still willing to pay) so we can get on with business. Not a bad paycheck for simply registering a domain name and company name and applying to register another company’s trademark!”
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