How Trademark Law Is Supposed To Work: Groupon Sues Australian Clone That Tried To Squat Groupon Name

from the likelihood-of-confusion dept

While we’ve talked a lot about abusive trademark lawsuits that are more about attacking competitors or hindering speech, the core concept (which has since been significantly stretched) still does make some sense: it works as a form of consumer protection, to stop consumers from being fooled into believing, say, that Bob’s Cola, is really Coca Cola — a well known brand that they trust. When I saw a headline that Groupon had filed a lawsuit against a clone, I was worried that it would be an attack on a competitor (of which there are many). However, it appears that Groupon is still leaving most of the many, many clones out there alone. It’s filed this particular lawsuit against Scoopon because the company tried to swipe the Groupon name in Australia. Not only did it register Groupon.com.au, it also registered its company name as Groupon Pty Limited and applied for the trademark on Groupon in Australia. That seems like a clear case of a company trying to confuse the public into believing it’s the original Groupon, and a perfectly reasonable situation for using trademark law.

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Companies: groupon

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Comments on “How Trademark Law Is Supposed To Work: Groupon Sues Australian Clone That Tried To Squat Groupon Name”

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29 Comments
Alex Daniels (profile) says:

The problem is when all IP is lumped together in one senseless mega-category. The folks who defend the anti-competitive and censorship-happy effects of patent and copyright always take advantage of this misconception.

Trademark, geographical indication signs and proper authorship attribution protect customers from being victims of a fraud and companies and artists from someone else abusing their hard-earned reputation.

Anonymous Coward says:

I still don’t understand the appeal or lasting business sense of groupon:

1. They have never offerred a “coupon” that is anywhere relevent to my needs. (I checked in about 25 times over three weeks.) The signal/noise ratio is therefore atrocious and not worth my time.

2. They don’t offer a service by which competitors can’t do the same thing. I don’t understand why Google or Microsoft can’t emulate exactly what Groupon has done, and do it better?

G Thompson (profile) says:

But it's ok when it goes the other way?

That might be true in the legal sense, but no one in Australia gives a toss and EVERYONE still calls them ugg boots and sells them as Ugg boots. The USA (Warner Bros) discovered what Aussies think about Trademark law when they also tried this same crap about “Tassie Devil”.

Trademark is NOT Worldwide and is absolutely Regional. It is also specific to usage.

A Proprietary Limited Company (PTY LTD) name is ONLY given within Australia if their is NO trademark dispute with already existing names within Australia. Our Corporation authority (ASIC) checks all IP matters before allowing a name to be used.

Groupon (USA) has got the shits because they never thought to register either the name nor the IP within Australia. TRIPS has nothing to do with it. Groupon PTY LTD (Aust) are not in any way shape or form “Passing off” or diluting the USA “Groupon” trademark since Groupon (The USA version) Do NOT offer there services within the region that is Australia (or even NZ).

The ONLY thing that Groupon (USA) could conceivably get in any court action is a promise that Groupon Pty Ltd would not enter into any markets elsewhere other than Australia. In the same way Groupon (USA) is now forbidden from operating in Australia.

McDonalds (USA) had this same problem trying to prove that they owned the common name McDonalds in conjuntion with selling hamburgers. Guess what? They found in Melbourne that they don’t. Campbell Soup (USA) found out the same thing In Brisbane.

In other words, Huge multinational wannabe companies find out that they really don’t have that much impact outside of there relevant trademark region and cannot bully tactic Aussie companies.

G Thompson (profile) says:

But it's ok when it goes the other way?

That might be true in the legal sense, but no one in Australia gives a toss and EVERYONE still calls them ugg boots and sells them as Ugg boots. The USA (Warner Bros) discovered what Aussies think about Trademark law when they also tried this same crap about “Tassie Devil”.

Trademark is NOT Worldwide and is absolutely Regional. It is also specific to usage.

A Proprietary Limited Company (PTY LTD) name is ONLY given within Australia if their is NO trademark dispute with already existing names within Australia. Our Corporation authority (ASIC) checks all IP matters before allowing a name to be used.

Groupon (USA) has got the shits because they never thought to register either the name nor the IP within Australia. TRIPS has nothing to do with it. Groupon PTY LTD (Aust) are not in any way shape or form “Passing off” or diluting the USA “Groupon” trademark since Groupon (The USA version) Do NOT offer there services within the region that is Australia (or even NZ).

The ONLY thing that Groupon (USA) could conceivably get in any court action is a promise that Groupon Pty Ltd would not enter into any markets elsewhere other than Australia. In the same way Groupon (USA) is now forbidden from operating in Australia.

McDonalds (USA) had this same problem trying to prove that they owned the common name McDonalds in conjuntion with selling hamburgers. Guess what? They found in Melbourne that they don’t. Campbell Soup (USA) found out the same thing In Brisbane.

In other words, Huge multinational wannabe companies find out that they really don’t have that much impact outside of there relevant trademark region and cannot bully tactic Aussie companies.

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