Legal threat: Cudo warns deals aggregator site


Australian ‘deal of the day’ site Cudo has sent local group buying aggregation site Buyii a letter claiming it is infringing its copyright by listing its deals and logo alongside those of rivals.

Buyii aggregates deals from the plethora of Australian sites set up over the past year or so to mimic the international success of US giant GroupOn, which has hit the financial stratasphere with its group buying model targeting distinct geographies. Prominent Australian sites like Spreets, Cudo, Scoopon and Jump On It are all represented on Buyii, as well as a handful of smaller sites.

However, Emren Kara, general counsel for Microsoft and ninemsn joint venture Cudo as well as ninemsn itself, sent Buyii a letter on Friday alleging the site was making “unauthorised use” or its content, including the text summary of Cudo’s daily deals, the Cudo name and logo and so on, and demanding the aggregation practice stop. “If you do not comply with the above requirements, Cudo will pursue the necessary legal action against you in order to protect its rights,” the letter states.

In a separate statement, Cudo chief executive Billy Tucker said it was “critical” that the company was able to control the use of its brand, as well as those of the partners it worked with. “We made a number of attempts to contact Buyii by email and by phone with no success,” he said. “We feel that we had no choice by to issue a [cease and desist].”

Buyii founder Zhen Lim said in contrast to Cudo’s approach, other group buying sites had actually requested Buyii add their deals to its site. “We have never received a complaint from any of the other 21 current group buying sites we monitor or the 4 soon to launch in the new few weeks. In fact we can proudly say we have healthy relationships with most if not all of the other group buying sites,” he said.

Buyii had, he said, previously attempted to contact Cudo to request help in adding the ninemsn-backed site to Buyii’s list and to enquire whether the site operated affiliate programs, as some other sites did. However, most of Buyii’s communications were ignored, Lim said, with the exception of “a single sentence reply” from Tucker after the chief executive was contacted through his personal blog.

Lim said Buyii would continue to aggregate Cudo’s deals, and disagreed with many of the statements in the company’s legal letter — such as the claim that Buyii was “trading off” the Cudo name and reputation. “We do not agree with the allegations that we are misleading visitors into thinking Buyii are official partners of Cudo,” said Lim.

However, the aggregation site will make a few changes to how it deals with Cudo — such as stopping the practice of copying and pasting Cudo’s deal descriptions and no longer displaying the Cudo logo. A disclaimer stating that Cudo no longer wishes its content to be used will be added to the Cudo deals on the site. Buyii already re-wrote the title headlines of the Cudo deals and will continue to do so.

However, some things will remain the same — for example, Buyii will continue to link directly to Cudo’s site. “If Cudo wishes to take Buyii over copyright infringement of publishing a URL, this would be to my knowledge be a first in Australia if not the world,” said Lim.

Microsoft mentality?
Lim said what he thought of Cudo’s actions from a personal point of view was that they were going against the spirit of group buying, which has the roots of its popularity in social media — with deals commonly being forwarded around Facebook and other social networks. In addition, Lim said, he believed Cudo might have been influenced by what he claimed was the corporate culture of its parents.

“It seems Billy Tucker has inherited or been forced to adopt the Microsoft mentality of ‘going alone’ and is attempting to take a stranglehold over the group buying space at all cost, even ones that seem to inconvenience users,” Lim said. “He has at his disposal the ninemsn legal team and has sent this cease and desist in an attempt to scare away the ‘little guy’. Buyii views this action as bullying and we’ll continue to fight for our users and for the sake of principles, that such information should be readily available for all readers and visitors of daily deal aggregator sites, not just”

Image credit: Capcom/Nintendo (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney video game)


  1. Sounds like fair use to me. I’m sick of companies trying to intimidate people with these bullying tactics and subvert legal rights. Both sites peddle pointless dodgy garbage and will soon be bankrupt anyway.

    • I dunno, I think I can see Cudo’s point legally — if Buyii is taking quite a chunk of their content daily, that’s going to add up to a lot. And you definitely can’t use other people’s logos without asking. Having said that, you have to ask whether it actually makes business sense for Cudo to stop Buyii publishing the information like this — after all, Buyii would be another source of traffic for Cudo. I’m not sure what I would do, personally.

      • Sorry Renai, I disagree with you on this. How is Buyii “taking quite a chunk of their content daily”? Surely they’re driving traffic to Cudo’s deal, there doesn’t appear to be any allegation Buyii is stealing anything from Cudo.

        The strangest thing with this is that it appears Cudo and both joint venture partners are all making legal threats against Buyii, which makes you ask who exactly represents Cudo.

        It all seems a messy over-reaction to me and Cudo’s management should be focusing on the battle for market share they are in with the other zillion group buying services that are out there.

        • Well, Buyii admitted they were “copying and pasting” content about deals from Cudo’s site. If someone was systematically “copying and pasting” paragraphs every day from Delimiter without permission, I’d have to think about what I would do about it — although I would probably not do anything unless it was automated. Copying and pasting the odd paragraph from someone else’s site, with attribution and linkback, is generally OK, but every day, on every deal? Seems like it would definitely be a breach of copyright.

          • There is a difference – your text is your trade, so copying and pasting Delimiter’s articles is stealing your product. For Cudo, their main business of selling deals which isn’t affected, in fact might be enhanced, by Buyii’s actions.

            So I still don’t buy (pardon the pun) the idea that Buyii are stealing anything from Cudo.

            Anyway, of what I’ve read to date Cudo, Microsoft and NineMSN main claim against Buyii is the aggregrator is passing off and damaging Cudo’s brand.

            Personally I’m baffled as to why Cudo would waste management time on a side issue like this when they have a pretty task to gain market share against some well funded competitors.

          • I get your point Paul, but you’re conflating business logic and copyright infringement … they’re not the same thing, as I noted in my initial comment. It doesn’t matter what Buyii or Cudo is using the text for — all that matters is that they are using it.

          • If you consider whether this is a good move by Cudo, then it does matter what they are using it for:

            1. Driving traffic to Cudo
            2. Driving sales to Cudo
            3. Giving Cudo equal exposure against Spreets, Jumponit, etc.
            4. Offering brand/offer exposure of Cudo.

            You might notice that buyii also ranks on the first page for Spreets and Jumponit – so you could even argue that Cudo is getting exposure from competitor brand searches.

            If I was Cudo I’d be buying buyii for that very reason, not trying to shut them down.

            It’s embarrassing that we continue to see old-world marketing decisions like this in Australia – particularly in such a new niche that should be about innovation and trend.

  2. Never heard of Cudo before this.

    Went to the site… Saw you have to pay to buy. Left and will never return.

    The days of ‘pay to buy’ business models are numbered… right now it’s negative 7, at leasts.

  3. Another example of big media struggling with fundamental web concepts. Let’s see if 7 does better with spreets.

Comments are closed.