Online food delivery company Grubhub has bought thousands of domain names similar to businesses that are already on the platform or are trying to comply with a new New Food Economy report.
The company owns over 23,000 of these like the domains it has set up to resemble restaurant landing pages on the platform. The websites even have an online order form to trick the consumers into believing they belong to the restaurants themselves.
Restaurant owners are up in arms over the finds, and they think Grubhub is luring users trying to visit their websites to order on their platform instead.
The company is the largest online food delivery service in the United States, and is also the parent company of a number of other similar services, including Eat24, menu pages and seamless. However, rivals DoorDash and Uber Eats have begun to threaten their dominance as they have become increasingly popular.
All domains owned by Grubhub use a similar template and display items from the menus to the actual restaurants. To make matters worse, some of the fake sites even use images taken directly from the restaurant's official website or from other competing delivery services.
The company's scheme works as such, buying Grubhub domains similar to the restaurant's website, and then using their original logos along with stolen food images to set up a very compelling false website. These areas also include links where customers can place orders that actually lead them back to one of the company's delivery services.
The fake sites are just another way to earn more commission from restaurants, but Grubhub defended his deceptive practice in a statement sent to the New Food Economy, says:
"Grubhub never has cybersquatted, which ICANN identifies as" generally bad faith registration of another person's trademark in a domain name. "As a service to our restaurants, we have created microsites for them as a different source of order and to increase their online brand presence. In addition, we have registered domains on their behalf, in accordance with our restaurant contracts. We no longer provide the service; and it has always been our practice to transfer the domain to the restaurant as soon as they request it. "
Restaurant owners worried that their site may have been copied may review the entire list prepared by the New Food Economy here.
Via The Verge