Menulog Under Fire for Registering Domain Names for Restaurants
Restaurant owners who offer their food on the Menulog app have discovered that the app has been registering websites under their name. Read about it here
It has been reported that food delivery company Menulog has been registering domain names for its restaurants. Although these food delivery companies can provide small businesses with a great way to reach new customers and increase profit, the practice of registering their names as websites is problematic for a number of reasons.
What has Menulog been doing?
According to recent findings, Menulog has been registering domain names for its member restaurants. To put this into context, this means that they own the name online, and can use it how they like. For example, if a cafe named ‘Alleyway 9’ signs up to Menulog, Menulog may register a website under the name ‘www.alleyway9.com.au’. If Alleyway 9 decide to launch a website, they’ll find that the name is already taken.
These websites provide information on the location of the restaurant, and also contain a link to order from the menu off of the app. This can have negative effects for restaurant owners, as more customers may visit the menulog site where they otherwise would visit the site of the restaurant. Competing interests mean that they want users to visit their site and order through them, but for restaurant owners this means that a percentage of that sale will go to Menulog.
How does this affect restaurants on Menulog?
Although setting up these sites can be beneficial to businesses without websites, it can also be hugely detrimental. For businesses who already have a website, having a company as large as Menulog register a domain name is detrimental. This is because internet traffic may go to Menulog rather than the restaurant. This also gives them increasing power in how they market the restaurants on their platform.
Domain names are not automatically protected under intellectual property laws, but protection is available. Small businesses who register websites can apply for the domain name to be trademarked. If you already have a registered domain name for your restaurant, it may be worth also registering similar names.
It’s important to note that restaurant agreements with Menulog do give them licence to use your business name, logo and menu. However, these trademarks are still yours and you can enforce your rights over them if they are misused.
What restaurants can do
Menulog have said that restaurants can opt-out of domain registration. To do this, you have to write to them requesting that they deregister your business’s domain name. It is wise to then register the domain name yourself.
Many restaurant owners aren’t aware of the extent over which Menulog has access to their assets. This includes your name, logo and even a website. Therefore, we recommend that you speak to a business lawyer before signing anything.
Jackie is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is an admitted solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW. She's interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.