Groupon threatens to sue daily deals aggregator… for linking to it

Groupon threatens to sue daily deals aggregator… for linking to it

With Groupon heading for an IPO and plenty of competition in the daily deals space, aggregator sites which pull together offers from a number of different providers offer a useful ‘one stop shop’ for potential customers. However, it appears that market leading Groupon may not be too happy about at least one of them.

Malaysian aggregator Dealshelve received an email from the CEO of its local Groupon outpost on Monday this week, threatening legal action if the company’s deals are not removed. In the email, posted to Pastebin and verified by The Next Web, Karl Chong writes:

“Groupon possesses substantial and valuable goodwill and reputation in Singapore, the use of Groupon deals are not authorized for display on your site.

“YOU HAVE UNTIL 5PM WEDNESDAY JULY 6TH TO TAKE DOWN ANY USE OF GROUPON’S DEALS FROM YOUR SITE. If by 5pm July 6th, you have not completed this, our next step will be to take formal legal action.”

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Dealshelve aggregates deals from 41 Malaysian daily deals sites and tells us that it uses affiliate schemes where they’re available. Groupon offers an affiliate scheme in some other parts of the world, but not Malaysia yet.

Groupon’s head office tells us of the email: “This isn’t unusual. We reach out to deal aggregators to politely request they omit our deals from their feeds; we’d prefer to have a conversation rather than sue. There are many benefits to being a Groupon subscriber – namely, that you see deals that are relevant to you, some of which are private to your email and not accessible by aggregators.”

Fair enough, you might say, but Dealshelve runs no ads on its site, so isn’t profiting from Groupon deals, simply linking to them – it could be argued that this is free publicity.

A Dealshelve representative explained its business to us: “We are focused on building our user base and as for our business model, we are looking into generating a group buying report that we can sell to group buying sites that are interested to learn about the current trends and also how well their competitors are doing in the group buying scene; you could call it “Yipit Data” for the Asian market.”

Aggregators are understandably a sore point in the daily deals market – they make users aware of the competition. Groupon competitor LivingSocial cut aggregators out of its affiliate scheme earlier this year. Groupon, meanwhile, tells us that it is “very selective” in the aggregators it works with.

Still, should someone really be sued for just linking to a publicly accessible page on another website? The deadline for Dealshelve to remove Groupon deals has passed without it doing so. It remains to be seen if Groupon will act on its threat.

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