Food delivery company Deliveroo is taking legal action against a UK cannabis dealer called “Dispenseroo” – because it wants to own the name itself.
In September, VICE World News revealed an illegal cannabis dealing business calling itself Dispenseroo was making up to £50,000 a week selling illicit bags of cannabis, edibles and vapes via the post.
Dispenseroo put up hundreds of unauthorised adverts for weed on London’s tube trains mimicking Delieveroo’s name and logo, and persuaded Instagram influencers to promote the brand. In October the outfit, which started selling weed in August, publicised its website on digital billboards in a shopping mall in Wembley, north-west London.
But this week Dispenseroo has been told it may have to hand over its domain name to Deliveroo because the food giant says it is infringing its trademark.
A Deliveroo spokesperson confirmed the firm had filed a complaint to request the transfer of the “Dispenseroo” domain names to Deliveroo, and to stop them using their brand name in order to protect its trademarks and brand.
"Given the obvious and substantive mimicking of our brand, we have lodged a complaint with Dispenseroo's website registrar and the World Intellectual Property Organisation," the spokesperson said.
When asked whether it had any future plans to use the Dispenseroo domain name itself to sell drugs, a spokesperson said the firm would not do that.
Speaking to VICE World News under the pseudonym “S” in order to protect his identity, Dispenseroo’s founder, a “weed-smoking Londoner in his 20s with a background in advertising and logistics start-ups,” said of Deliveroo’s legal action: “We strongly feel that Deliveroo’s hostile claims to this name, which they derive off the word ‘kangaroo,’ is laughable.
“On a daily basis we receive many messages from customers on how much they depend on us and how much ease we have brought to their life. Even against the legal adversities we already face with the archaic laws around cannabis in the UK, we have all come together around the beauties of bud to fight for a cause we strongly believe in. We believe our fight with Deliveroo is just another hurdle we must overcome.”
‘S’ said that Dispenseroo had multiple domain names around the world in countries where Deliveroo does not operate.
Deliveroo was founded in 2013 in the UK by American tech nerds Grek Orlowski and Will Shu and now operates in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In August, the company announced losses of £147 million in the first six months of this year, although it still made revenues of over £1bn during that time, in which it made 160 million deliveries.