An interesting post just went up on the Groupon blog announcing a lawsuit filed against Australian Groupon clone Scoopon. The post explains the unprecedented move of taking legal action against a Groupon clone, which apparently is squatting on the Groupon.com.au domain name. The case goes to Australian court on February 4th, and in the meantime Groupon will be doing business in Australia under the name Stardeals.
Says Groupon CEO Andrew Mason:
“The worldwide proliferation of Groupon clones has been well documented. One particular clone in Australia called Scoopon, created by the brothers Gabby and Hezi Leibovitch, has been making life difficult for us. Scoopon went a little further than just starting their Groupon clone – they actually purchased the Groupon.com.au domain name, took the company name Groupon Pty Limited, and tried to register the Groupon trademark (filing for the trademark just seven days before us) in Australia.
The way we see things, this is a classic case of domain squatting – an unfortunate reality of the Internet business. As Groupon became internationally known, opportunistic domain squatters around the world started to buy local Groupon domain names, thinking that we’d eventually be forced to buy them at an insane price. In fact, we tried to do just that, reluctantly offering Gabby and Hezi Leibovich about $286,000 for the Groupon.com.au domain and trademark—an offer they accepted. But now they’ve changed their minds, and we believe that they’ll only sell us the domain and trademark if we’re willing to buy the entire Scoopon business from them. Left with no other options, we’ve filed a lawsuit against Scoopon, claiming that their Groupon trademark was filed in bad faith (amongst other things).”
Groupon will also be prosecuting the Leibovich brothers for trademark infringement in its home state of Illinois, despite Scoopon being Australia-based. While it remains to be seen how valid a claim on a US trademark will be considered internationally, with Groupon in the process of raising nearly $1 billion at a $4.75 billion valuation, it certainly has a war chest to go after any of the thousands of clones stepping on its toes.