Update: It appears that the rebranding exercise is now complete – Crazeal.com redirects to Groupon.co.in and the Crazeal branding has been replaced with Groupon India branding.

Earlier: Groupon India, the Indian operations of the global group buying service, which operates under the Crazeal brand name, will finally rebrand itself to Groupon India and switch to a new domain – Groupon.co.in. The company communicated the development via its email newsletter to all subscribers, saying that Crazeal will move to the new website www.groupon.co.in.

We tried contacting Groupon India CEO Ankur Warikoo for clarifications, but he said he’s travelling and will speak with us once he returns.

This would be the second rebranding exercise for Groupon, which entered India by acquiring group deals site, SoSasta in January 2011. It rebranded SoSasta to Crazeal.com in August 2011. One of the reasons for the rebranding was the use of the word ‘sasta’ which translates to ‘cheap’ in Hindi. In an interview with Techcircle, Warikoo mentioned that some premium merchants had an issue with the brand name. Another reason could have been the user data leak in which user data, including passwords, was compromised. Note that new domain is Groupon.co.in and not Groupon.in.

Why did it take so long?

Bangalore based company, ValueNet Ecommerce, had started a daily deals site Groupon.in, and more interestingly, trademarked the brand name Groupon, in India. So Groupon was not able to get its hands on the ‘groupon.in’ domain.  However, it managed to get an ex parte ad interim injunction from the Delhi High Court, which restrained the usage of the trademark GROUPON or a variation of it. Subsequently, the defendent (Mohan Rao) initiated litigation against Groupon Inc in the district court in Bangalore, following which the Delhi High Court initiated mediation at the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre. So Groupon and the owners of the trademark Groupon in India (and groupon.in) are in the midst of a court case: the next hearing of the case in the Delhi High Court is on 21st January 2013.

We were not able to get the text in a Karnataka High Court hearing document for the case (it might require Kannada fonts). Groupon.in is still registered to Value Net Ecommerce and Mohan Rao and the status of the domain shows an additional ‘Client Transfer Prohibited’ remark. The domain and the website is inactive.

So it appears that Groupon India is using the .co.in domain to bypass the issue. But then if getting a ‘.co.in’ domain was a solution, why did the company take so long to decide to change its name?

Is the change in name really necessary?

How many people in India know GroupOn? It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to leverage an international brand name for attracting consumers – it’s a deal aggregator, not a product or services business like an Ikea or Starbucks. GroupOn is mostly competing with TimesDeals*, which recently started offering deals for free. There aren’t many deal sites left, and Snapdeal appears to be focusing on building an e-commerce business now. Note that GroupOn is still group buying, while others are just discount sites.

*Disclosure: Times Internet Ltd (Indiatimes) is an advertiser with MediaNama