Israeli coupon company Baligam Ltd. today filed a NIS 550,000 lawsuit with the Tel Aviv District Court against Groupon Inc. for copyright and trademark infringement. In January, Groupon acquired Israeli social shopping site Grouper, which now operates as Groupon Israel.
Baligam claims that Groupon Israel grossly and repeatedly infringed its copyright in order to benefit from Baligam's reputation and unfairly interfering in its business by infringing on its trademark.
Baligam and Groupon Israel are leading local social shopping sites, and each had a turnover of tens of millions of shekels in 2010, when the daily deals market in Israel emerged.
Baligam claims that, in December, it discovered that when searching for the name of its website in English in Google, one of the first results was for Groupon under Baligam's name. Clicking on the link directed the user to an announcement that Groupon was about to launch operations in Israel and invited users to send their e-mail addresses to receive daily deals.
Baligam claims that it contacted Groupon in late December, before Groupon officially entered Israel through its acquisition of Grouper, and demanded that it cease and desist from using Baligam's name to advertise its services.
Baligam claims that the warning was ignored, and that the incident recurred in January. Baligam sent a letter demanding that it stop publishing announcements proximate to the name of Baligam's website, but which go to Groupon Israel's website. Baligam claims that Groupon sent back a letter denying the actions attributed to it, or that the actions were done with its knowledge, and that such actions would stop.
In the statement of claim, Baligam says the declarations were one thing, but reality was otherwise. In March, the same case recurred in the same way, and Baligam sent another warning letter, in which it asked Groupon to make an offer for compensation for copyright infringement. Baligam says that no response was received.
Baligam asked the court for an injunction against Groupon to immediately desist from all use of Baligam's trademark and for compensation for illegal enrichment at Baligam's expense and for unfair intervention in its business.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 18, 2011
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