Grubhub registered as many as 23,000 web domains and used them to set up restaurant websites, sometimes without their owners' knowledge or express permission (GRUB)


Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney speaks onstage at The Disruptors panel during The New York Times Food For Tomorrow Conference 2016 on September 28, 2016 in Pocantico, New York.

  • Grubhub registered 23,000 internet domains, many of them resembling the names of restaurants, The New Food Economy reported.
  • In at least some cases, Grubhub has set up websites on those domains that incorporate the related restaurants’ names and logos without their express permission, according to the report.
  • Grubhub registered the domains as a service to its customers, and that it’s ceased the practice, a company representative told Business Insider.
  • The representative denied that the company was cybersquatting, or registering the names of trademarked businesses with the intent to profit off them.
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Food delivery company Grubhub owns some 23,000 internet domains, many of them incorporating the names of restaurants around the country, according to a report in The New Food Economy on Friday.

In at least some cases, Grubhub has set up websites on those domains that feature the names and logos of the restaurants incorporated in their addresses, according to The New Food Economy and a related article by The Verge. Those websites include links that point to Grubhub, rather than to the restaurants own sites, and tout phone numbers that delivery company controls, rather than to the restaurants’ own phone numbers, according to the reports.

“I never gave them permission to do that,” a New York City restaurant owner referred to as Shivane M. told The New Food Economy.

In a statement, Grubhub spokesman Brendan Lewis confirmed to Business Insider that the company had registered domains, though he declined to confirm the number. He declined to say whether Grubhub got owners’ express permission for launching the sites, saying only that the site registrations were consistent with the company’s contracts with its partners.

Read this: GrubHub pops as Amazon exits restaurant delivery in the US

Grubhub acquired the domains as a service to its customers, but has ceased the practice, he said. He did not say when it stopped it.

“As a service to our restaurants, we have created microsites for them as another source of orders and to increase their online brand presence,” Lewis said in the statement. “It has always been our practice,” he continued, “to transfer the domain to the restaurant as soon as they request it.”

Grubhub typically charges commissions to restaurants for orders it sends their way. Its fees are higher when orders go through the phone numbers and websites it controls than through those controlled by its restaurant partners, according to the reports.

At least some of the sites Grubhub operated featured restaurants that were not its partners, according to The New Food Economy. Lewis did not address how Grubhub got permission to launch or operate those sites. But he denied that the company was engaged in cybersquatting.

Cybersquatting is the practice of registering domains that resemble or include the names of trademarked businesses with the intent of profiting off them.

“Grubhub has never cybersquatted,” Lewis said in the statement.

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