SINGAPORE, Jan 12 — GrabTaxi Holdings, which owns popular ride-hailing firm Grab, is being sued by a Singapore-based company over an alleged agreement that both parties had over the Indonesian Internet domain name, “grab.co.id”.
GrabTaxi Holdings was said to have agreed to acquire the domain name for US$250,000 (about RM1.02 million) from 3 Corporate Services. The company, which reportedly offers business management consultancy services and manages web portals, is now seeking losses and damages from GrabTaxi Holdings after it allegedly refused to honour the agreement.
The civil suit was filed in July last year, as stated in High Court documents seen by TODAY.
In its defence, GrabTaxi Holdings’ lawyers from Niru & Co LLC will argue that 3 Corporate Services was engaged in cyber-squatting activities. Cyber-squatting is the practice of registering names as Internet domains, especially those of well-known companies or brands, in the hopes of reselling them at a profit.
GrabTaxi Holdings is also claiming that 3 Corporate Services tried to sell more “Grab” domain names for the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam to the holding company, but 3 Corporate Services in turn claimed that it was GrabTaxi Holdings which tried to obtain the “Grab” domain names for these three countries from it.
Grab has a presence in these countries and several others in the Southeast-Asia region.
In alleging that 3 Corporate Services are cyber-squatters, GrabTaxi Holdings said that the company sought to benefit from a domain name that is “identical or confusingly similar to a name, trademark or service mark” belonging to Grab.
Chat between two men
In July 2017, GrabTaxi Holdings’ head of partnerships Shawn Heng expressed interest in buying the domain name grab.co.id during a phone call with Mr Mark Ho, a director and sole shareholder of 3 Corporate Services.
Mr Ho allegedly told Mr Heng that the firm did not register grab.co.id, but it could help transfer the domain name to GrabTaxi Holdings.
Mr Ho is also a director of Top 3 Media, which registered the grab.co.id domain name through a representative.
Later, the two men discussed the proposed sale of the domain name to GrabTaxi Holdings over WhatsApp through a series of text messages.
3 Corporate Services, represented by Selvam LLC, is alleging that both firms entered into a written agreement on July 22, 2017, and that 3 Corporate Services was to procure the transfer of the domain name from Top 3 Media to GrabTaxi for US$250,000.
However, in September that year, GrabTaxi Holdings purportedly informed 3 Corporate Services that it would not honour the agreement.
GrabTaxi Holdings responded in its court filings that it did not accept 3 Corporate Services’ sale offer at all, as the offer was subject to certain pre-conditions. This included requiring 3 Corporate Services to own the domain name at the time the offer was accepted.
To that, 3 Corporate Services is claiming that no such requirement existed.
GrabTaxi Holdings is also accusing 3 Corporate Services of engaging in a scheme with Top 3 Media to be registered as the owner of numerous domain names that referred to well-known companies or personalities, and then demanding “extortionate amounts” from these companies or personalities later.
These included “Go-Jek.com.sg”, “Amywinehouse.com.sg”, “ToyotaHarrier.com.sg”, and “f1Auto.sg”.
In its reply filed in August last year, 3 Corporate Services denied these allegations.
It claimed that Top 3 Media is in the business of branding, website design and digital marketing, and its Indonesian arm “Grab Indonesia” had been operational since 2013. Grab branded itself as so only in 2016.
The trial for the civil suit will take place over three days in June this year. —TODAY