You may have read that Groupon is fighting to get its Australian ccTLD domain name. It had offered to pay over a quarter of a million dollars for the domain name and a similar trademark filing. It seems a bit odd that a company would seemingly reward an alleged cybersquatter for this much money, but Groupon needs this (and similar) domain names ASAP.
Groupon is a rapidly growing company in a vertical that has very few barriers to entry. Local companies with the manpower and desire to pound the pavement can work with local businesses and start their own entities. As businesses go, this one is not too difficult to duplicate, although it isn’t easy to scale.
Groupon is in the phase where they are quickly growing around the world, be it with acquisitions of large enough competitors that they can enter markets rapidly, or by entering the market and becoming the dominant presence. Groupon is fast becoming known throughout the world as THE company that offers group deals.
In addition to using a universal .com domain name (Groupon.com), the company is embracing local ccTLDs. The company operates sites like Groupon.ca, Groupon.de, Groupon.com.mx, Groupon.co.uk, Groupon.es, Groupon.fr, Groupon.co.il, Groupon.jp, Groupon.cn, and many others, which are highly targeted.
With its rapid growth, the company probably doesn’t have the time to wait for the settlement of lawsuits or determination of UDRPs to get the domain names it wants to operate. Instead, the money is less important to this well funded company than the time it will take to get the domain name via UDRP and/or lawsuit.
It’s interesting to watch Groupon seemingly reward others for grabbing Groupon ccTLDs, but domain investors should note that this is an isolated situation, and doing so with other trademarks can be very risky and expensive to defend.
As you mention in your article, here in Chicago there are numerous newspapers and other entities that are springing up as competition to Groupon. I subscribe to a couple of the well known aggregators, Dealery and Yipit, to keep track of all of the deals.
I would not say that Groupon stands out at all, and each of my friends has their own favorites, depending upon their niche. Groupon, has fallen into this manicure/salon niche, that is not very appealing to me. And if the owners of the salon joints didn’t use their own workers as slave labor, the niche probably wouldn’t even exist.
It is not clear who will actually survive at the end, but large cities probably have room for several players.
They won’t make that mistake again.
If you knew how much money they put into branding Groupon you wouldn’t write this article.
I can imagine how much they’ve spent… I haven’t used them yet nor have I signed up.
This is more of a PSA for domain investors who think they might get rich squatting on ccTLDs of big brands. I think this is a very isolated reason, and it’s a unique situation.
Definitely an isolated situation. I can understand why Groupon is taking such a non-threatening stance to that group in Australia because Groupon certainly needs the domain now. But I would assume Groupon will make it very clear to them that their exceedingly generous offer has an expiration date.
What is most interesting about this topic, in my opinion, is how fast Groupon grew in popularity and then realized how important the domain names are to prevent brand dilution.
6 million companies — in the US alone — start-up every year. Many, if not a majority, fail at some point in time. They are all not trying to buy all of their business name TLDs and ccTLDs, for if they would run out of resources before they opened their doors.
Likewise, filing for a trademark in all major countries would be time and resource intensive and prohibitive.
There’s no easy answer but to realize that if a company goes through such enormous growth, buying up the domain names that were purchased is one of the pains they’ll have to deal with to secure their branding. And it’s a lot more inexpensive than litigating every one.
is it right? No, but it’s legal.
Elliott, what do you think about niche pon names like Salonpon.com, Gamepon.com. foodpons.com etc..
I think the next movement in the online Group Deal world will be niche markets. Do you think investing in a couple of nichepon.com names is worthwhile?