Food company Grubhub owns around 23,000 Internet domains on Friday, many of which include the names of restaurants across the country, according to a report in The New Food Economy on Friday.
At least in some cases, Grubhub has set up websites for these domains, with restaurants' names and logos added to their addresses, according to The New Food Economy and a related article by The Verge. These sites contain links that point to Grubhub rather than the restaurants' websites, and phone numbers controlled by the supplier, rather than the restaurant's phone numbers, as the reports say.
"I never gave them permission," said a New York restaurant owner named Shivane M. to The New Food Economy.
In a statement, Grubhub spokesman Brendan Lewis told Business Insider that the company had registered domains, but declined to confirm the number. He declined to say if Grubhub had obtained the express permission of the owners to launch the sites, and only said that the site registrations were in line with the company's contracts with its partners.
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Grubhub acquired the domains as a service to its customers, but has discontinued the practice, he said. He did not say when it stopped.
"As a service to our restaurants, we've created microsites for them as another source for ordering and increasing their online brand presence," said Lewis in the statement. "It has always been our practice," he continued, "to transfer the domain to the restaurant as soon as it demands it."
Grubhub usually charges commissions on orders sent by restaurants. The fees are higher when orders are placed over the phone numbers and websites he controls than those controlled by his restaurant partners, as the reports indicate.
At least some of the Grubhub-operated websites included restaurants that were not his partners, according to The New Food Economy. Lewis did not care how Grubhub got permission to start or operate these sites. He denied, however, that the company had cybersquatting operated.
Cybersquatting registers domains that are similar to or contain the name of branded companies in order to benefit from them.
"Grubhub has never been on the Internet," Lewis said in the statement.
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