Angie’s List, a US-based paid subscription supported website containing crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses, has sued Amazon Local alleging theft of intellectual property. All together, the federal lawsuit suit levels a whole host of charges against Amazon, including misappropriation of trade secrets, theft, computer trespass, civil conspiracy and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. According to the complaint, Angie’s List alleges that Amazon Local executives stole provider lists by signing up as members of the Angie’s List sight and copying provider profiles, member reviews, and other important proprietary information.
Angie’s List was founded in 1995 to create a national listing of home repair providers and other businesses where members that paying members can browse through and evaluate. In 2014, the company reported nearly $80 million in revenue. This past year, Internet retailing giant Amazon entered the home services procurement market through their subsidiary, Amazon Local. According to Angies List, “”Amazon Local has chosen not to devote the necessary time, resources and effort to compete legitimately with Angie’s List. … Instead, Amazon Local and its employees have chosen the shortcut of surreptitiously accessing and misappropriating Angie’s List’s proprietary information … through dozens (if not more) of Angie’s List membership accounts that were fraudulently obtained and misused’.
In the lawsuit, Angie’s Lists states that their membership agreement “”explicitly prohibits the use of Angie’s List’s accounts and information for commercial purposes”, contending that a dozen Amazon Local employees violated that contract. One of the defendants, Daniel Malamud, signed up for Angie’s List just after taking a job with Amazon Local. As an account executive for South Jersey, Malmud reviewed information for hundreds of service providers throughout the Philadelphia Area.
In a brief statement to the press, Angie’s List spokeswoman Cheryl Reed stated, “We welcome competition, but on fair and legal grounds.”
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