Since Groupon started in 2008, we’ve grown from one to 30-seven countries. Australia, however, remains conspicuously absent from our lineup. Australian customers and press have been asking why we still haven’t formally launched – we’re very sorry for the delay and would like nothing more than to grow Groupon to Australia. I put this post together to shed some light on why it’s been such a challenge.
The worldwide proliferation of Groupon clones has been well documented (of course, none being more sinister than Nopuorg). 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).
Unfortunately, it could take a over a year to resolve our lawsuit. In the meantime, rather than continue to wait, we plan to grow in Australia under a tentative name, currently Stardeals.
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!
Apologies – we don’t like to bother our customers with these things, but felt you deserved to understand why it’s taking us so long in Australia.