auDA steps back from Groupon stoush

Summary:Australia's domain name regulator late last week said the scuffle between US online coupon giant Groupon and local imitator Scoopon was out of its jurisdiction, because the Australian company had registered the "Groupon" business name in Australia as well as the local domain name associated with it.

Australia's domain name regulator late last week said the scuffle between US online coupon giant Groupon and local imitator Scoopon was out of its jurisdiction, because the Australian company had registered the "Groupon" business name in Australia as well as the local domain name associated with it.

auDA chief executive Chris Disspain (Russian IGF: Chris Disspain image
by Veni Markovski, CC2.0)

Last week, deal of the day site Groupon — which has shot to global prominence and accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue since it launched in late 2008 — accused Scoopon of "domain squatting" on its Australian domain name, and stealing its local trademark. The company has also initiated court cases against Scoopon in the US and in Australia.

"We believe that they'll only sell us the domain and trademark if we're willing to buy the entire Scoopon business from them," wrote Groupon chief executive Andrew Mason in a blog post.

Australia's domain name regulator, .au Domain Administration (auDA), often steps in to adjudicate cases where the ownership of a certain domain name is in dispute. However, in this case, auDA chief executive Chris Disspain said his organisation's hands were tied.

"Simply put, the Australian company [is] entitled to the domain name because they have the company name," he said in an email last week.

"So the issue is a legal one re: the company name and cannot be solved in the domain name arena. If [the Australian Securities and Investments Commission] allows them to have the company name, they meet the .au policy for the domain name."

One of the founders of Scoopon, Hezi Leibovich, has said that Groupon's publicity around the legal action was inappropriate.

"Groupon's attempt to try and have this matter 'determined' in the court of public opinion is unfortunate and possibly amounts to sub judice," Leibovich wrote. "As the matters in dispute are presently before the court, it is inappropriate to publicly comment on matters before the court."

The executive said Scoopon was "confident" of its position and would continue to defend it despite what it said was attempts by Groupon to "bully" it out of the market.

Leibovich pointed out that Scoopon was the sister site of Catch of the Day, which he said was the nation's number one most visited online store in its category, according to tracking service Hitwise, and had been around well before Groupon came into existence.

"The development of Scoopon was a natural extension of the existing consumer offering provided by the founders of Catch of the Day.

"Consequently, Scoopon refuses to bow to the US giant's attempt at trying to bully it out of the Australian market."

Topics: Legal

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