Why Groupon Isn't in Australia

Since Groupon started in 2008, we’ve grown from one to thirty-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](http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/04/cut-paste-innovation-groupon-gets-cloned-in-russia/) (of course, none being more sinister than [Nopuorg](http://www.nopuorg.com/)). 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](http://www.stardeals.com.au/).

If you’d like to see Groupon grow in Australia, show your support by [joining the “Groupon in Australia” Facebook Group](http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Groupon-to-Australia/124455354287884), 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.

  • Good. Domain squatters and copy cats like this bring nothing of value into the world. I hope they drown in legal fees.

  • Guys, as an Australian, I am ashamed.

    Not only do they lack any innovation by simply copying a model, they then try to stifle genuine competition by stealing your trademark / rightful domain ownership.

    low of the low.

    What is really required is an anti Scoopon facebook page – at least we consumers might damage what business they do have and send them packing…

  • Good luck. Trademark laws need to catch up with the Internet. It’s too easy for a squatter to grab domains that tread on the goodwill a company had generated.

    I think the original purpose of trademark law was to protect the consumer e.g., prevent the consumer from being ripped off by buying a confusingly similar product/service that is inferior (e.g., Kit Kit candy bar vs Kit Kat). The secondary purpose is to protect the goodwill that a company generates.

    So, with squatters like this, both companies and consumers are harm.

    Relying on a “first to use” or “first to file” within a country results in far too much abuse as squatters pre-file, etc.

    I wish Groupon success. It’s quite a rise from the ashes/phoenix story.

    @matt – There are squatters/copycats in every country. Australia rocks. I almost moved there last year, until my wife got a new job in nyc.

  • I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction and a penny… US, Australian or otherwise. Don’t do it.

  • and this was after you did the same thing to some poor guy in england.

    Come on – just pay up and stop being so stingy.. what do you expect when you are raising hundreds of millions of dollars. Once you get the domain its yours and yours forever.

  • That’s why I can only find livingsocial in AU.
    Please, help Groupon to come to Australia!

  • Just offer them $1 million. Everybody wants a million. $286,000 is a screwed up number. You guys turned down $6 billion, so don’t blame them for turning down $286,000.

  • Bummer! Looks like they have also registered groupon.co.nz – any plans to launch in New Zealand any time soon?

  • Groupon should withdraw the offer and have a look at legal avenues. Similar case with http://1saleaday.com.au/ they’ve had to take down their website. I seem to have a love hate relationship with AuDa (they resolve .com.au disputes) – sometimes they get it right, sometimes soooo wrong.

  • 286k seems like a very small amount of money to offer from a company supposedly worth $6 bil. Probably fair to say it was Groupons own mistake and business naivety to not protect your brand internationally.
    Believe it or not Australia is not part of the USA and in fact has a lot different laws and criteria when it comes to trademarked names.

    Maybe time to spend the money now rather than risk a flakey confusing brand image in Australia and a protracted legal campaign which you will most likely lose. Not great press to enter a new country, and remember the Aussie mindset always favours an underdog

  • by the way i took all the livingdeals twitter names last year 🙂 i love groupons love your model. but think australia is such a small market, two largest cities is sydney and melbourne.

    and there is like 10 copy cats out there, there is so much facials, nail bars we can go to…..

  • You might like to slow down on your comments until it goes to court.. The court process in Australia and AUDRP take a dim view of the way you are publicly writing about this dispute.

    Allegations of domain squatting so publicly might be cause for defamation or slander if not proven by you and you might find yourself without groupon.com.au and with some huge legals fees and settlements to the other party you need to pay

  • I hit the ‘like’ button and am considering creating a MySpace group to go after those Nopuorg guys.

    Seriously, sorry to hear about what’s going on.

  • I think what they have done is not right, yet I think if a reasonable price is offered Groupon could buy the whole business from them. If you guys come into the Australian market after a massive court win it may not be the right way to do it.

  • Your personalised attacks on these legitimate businesses is a disgrace.
    I hope you are sent packing back to the USA with your tail between your legs.
    I’m old enough to remember when grabbing valuable domains was called ‘enterprising’.
    Stop trying to cover up your FAIL to register your domain in .au

  • That should be the easiest auDRP case to win ever. Have you gone to auDA and presented your case or filed a “law suit” with a court?

    AuDA will appoint an independent arbitrator to decide the case. For a bit more you can invest in 3 panelists for a decision. Take a look at how Facebook got their name, there should be some decent precedents in the auDRP archive for you to base your complaint. Honestly, it is as clear as day they registered in bad faith – and if you have emails to suggest they are holding you ransom for the sale of their whole business, all of that can be attached to the case and has to prove they were only in it to sell.

    You might have a bit of a problem with their business name, trademark etc etc, but all of that should be able to be shown as only created after your product was gaining momentum (check the Facebook case for similar argument).

    On another note, I hate that COTD product (same owners) they are a bunch of clowns. I hope you crush them – withdraw your offer, don’t pay them a cent. Good luck.

  • Don’t encourage them!!! IMO you should do everything you can to avoid giving them any money.

    I believe ‘.com’ is preferable to ‘.com.au’ anyway.

  • Maybe I’m missing something but why can’t you use something like groupon.com/au or australia.groupon.com instead of a whole new brand while this gets sorted out?

  • Scoopon is the 3rd largest player in Australia and I believe their will be some consolidation in the next 18 mnths, with Scoopon not being part of that process. Terrible interface, no creativity, pretty bland really.

    I think your best option will be forced mediation, something like 300K each as 12 mth advisory roles with Groupon Australia for the brothers, offer some of their staff positions, stock options etc etc..

    I’m on your side Andrew and any right minded person would be, dont worry about the haters as we have a sever case of tall poppy syndrome and an underlying current of resentment towards big American companies.

    PS: I cant believe you guys brushed off Google’s offer.

  • oh I forgot to add, you guys should consider grabbing the .au domain also from NetRegistry, its not a TLD but still in some use here down under, plus its not governed by WIPO so squatting etc is hard to resolve.

    So that would be Groupon.au.com.

    Good luck with it all.

  • Andrew,

    I completely understand the frustration (and ultimate disappointment with other people’s obviously poor taste, behavior, and ethical choices). My own company’s site has seen its fair share of clones. There’s really nothing worse than other people deliberately trying to steal your goodwill from you and attempt to profit from it themselves. In many ways, it is legal (particularly when looked at across international lines) but from an ethical standpoint, it really is downright scammy, dirty, and entirely unoriginal and uninnovative and certainly not appreciated or looked at with admiration or pride.

    On the other hand, the same people that do it (like the brothers in your case) are truly in it for just the money, not actually building up a positive and respected reputation for themselves.

    I guess if you want to be rich, you can trade just about everything else good about yourself to do it.

  • You guys apparently turned down a significant offer from Google.

    Seems to me that Scoopon have a similar perogative to turn down an offer from you guys – ffs you have only been going for two years, you are acting like some big kid on the block.

  • You had plenty of time to buy the groupon.com.au domain. Quit whingeing. You missed out, stiff shit – just pay up and be done with it.

  • I love how people are saying that Scoopon is exploting Groupon’s goodwill. I think people are forgetting that Groupon is out there to make money – just like any other company in the world.

    Fair play to the brothers for getting in their first. Would have thought that it would have been quite easy to register your domain name worldwide early on in the piece.

    Anyway, we’ll see what happens. I think that if you end up taking an Aussie owned and run company, you’ll enter the market place with a bad rep.
    In saying that, people will still buy good deals whoevers offers them.

    @ Dishwasher – Couldn’t agree with you more. Over saturation of the relatively small marketplace for this type of business is already occuring. The same businesses are being run on the different group buying sites already operational in Australia.

    Is it really worth Groupon coming to Australia, when it’s just going to be the same old deals, being re-run over and over?
    In my opinion, probably not worth the hassle.

  • Ummm… Gabby & Hezi started before Group, and already turn over $35m in aus.

    Using social media to “out” them is dispicable. Sure fire way to create hostile negotiations.

    Human pyschology 101. Bit like standing in front of the school assembly and saying “Joanne won’t go out with me, even though she said she would, so now I’m naming here and will tell her parents to force the issue”

  • Seriously guys they beat you to the domain name, its not the end of the world. You arnt an australian company with australian employees. They are an australian company – why should australians support an american company??

    Just use your .com and deal with it. These guys are just one of many well established players in the group buying space in australia, they are the least of your worry, jumponit, cudos, spreets etc etc.

    Pretty surprised you published such a blog post Andrew – is quite “unaustralian” !

  • As a self confessed deal junkie and client of Scoopon/JumpOnIt/Spreets, I can’t help but think buying the whole business is such a bad thing for Groupon.

    Scoopon in my opinion always have the best deals when you compare the deals on aggregator sites like allthedeals.com.au which I’m sure is why they have such a loyal following and do so well.

    If like someone above has indicated the market is soon to consolidate into a few big players then surely given how saturated the market is already, buying one of the market leaders just makes sense.

    I can understand Andrews frustration, but I have a feeling this will be a blessing in disguise if he does end up buying them out.

  • Further to Peter’s point above.

    I’m pretty sure Scoopon is the service devision of Catchoftheday.com.au. Who have been offering a deal a day years before Groupon even existed.

    If anyone should be having a whinge its woot.com

  • As a web hosting company, I agree that messing with an trademark or domain squatting is totally unacceptable.
    However, I do not believe for a min. that the concept of buying in bulk or stricking a conditional offer with a supplier is a business model or an idea that would hold up if taken to court. This has been around for centuries in one form or another.
    As for copying an idea, you support the activity you dread through your “Facebook” page, yet another in the long list of copies…. by far not the first and by far not the best!

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