Food supplier Grubhub owns around 23,000 internet domains, many of which incorporate the names of restaurants around the country, according to a report in The New Food Economy on Friday.
In some cases, Grubhub has created websites on the domains containing the names and logos of the restaurants incorporated into their addresses, according to The New Food Economy and a related article by The Verge. These sites include links pointing to Grubhub, instead of the restaurants own websites, and tout phone numbers that the shipping company controls, rather than the restaurant's own phone numbers, according to the reports.
"I've never given them permission to do so," a New York City restaurant owner told Shivane M. told The New Food Economy.
In a statement, Grubhub spokesman Brendan Lewis confirmed to Business Insider that the company had registered domains, even though he refused to confirm the number. He refused to say if Grubhub was given the owner's explicit permission to launch the sites, saying only that the site registrations were in line with the company's contracts with its partners.
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Grubhub bought the domains as a service to his customers, but has ceased the exercise, he said. He didn't say when it stopped.
"As a service to our restaurants, we have created microsites for them as another source of order and to increase their online brand presence," Lewis said in the statement. "It has always been our practice," he continued, "transferring the domain to the restaurant as soon as they ask for it."
Grubhub usually takes commissions to restaurants for orders it sends its way. The fees are higher when orders go through the phone numbers and sites it controls than through those controlled by their restaurant partners, according to the reports.
At least some of the sites Grubhub ran well-known restaurants that were not its partners, according to The New Food Economy. Lewis did not address how Grubhub was allowed to start or run these sites. But he denied that the company was engaged in cybersquatting.
Cybersquatting is the practice of registering domains similar to or including the names of branded businesses for the purpose of earning them.
"Grubhub never has cybersquatted," Lewis said in the statement.
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