Amazon & Apple Accused of Ganging Up
SEATTLE (CN) - An online retailer sued Amazon and Apple, claiming Amazon shut it down because Apple complained that it was selling Apple products too cheaply.
Hard 2 Find Accessories sued Apple and Amazon in Federal Court on Friday, alleging breach of contract, antitrust violations, tortious interference, consumer law violations and defamation.
According to the complaint, Hard 2 Find (H2F) began selling products on Amazon in 2012 and earned more than $3 million before its account was closed. The company claims it sold products "at prices that Apple does not like," prompting Apple to file a baseless complaint with Amazon.
Amazon closed H2F's account in June 2013, claiming the items H2f was selling "may be counterfeit," according to the complaint.
H2F says it appealed the decision and contacted (nonparties) Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and Elena Yakubova, who represented Apple.
"On information and belief, Kilpatrick employs Elena Yakubova, a non-attorney, as an 'IP Case Assistant' to file counterfeit allegations against companies, like H2F, who sell Apple products on Amazon at prices that Apple does not like," the lawsuit states.
"On or about June 25, 2013, Apple admitted to H2F that the infringement claim it lodged with Amazon was in error and represented that Apple had withdrawn its complaint with Amazon.
"On June 25, 2013, H2F informed Amazon that Apple's infringement claim was in error and that Apple had withdrawn the claim."
But H2F says Amazon refused to reinstate its selling privileges despite Apple's dropping of the counterfeit claim.
H2F says it contacted Amazon and Apple numerous times to resolve the matter.
"On August 20, 2013, Amazon contacted H2F and, for the first time, informed H2F that Amazon shuttered H2F's account as a result of factors that were not listed in Amazon's June 14, 2013, communication to H2F. Many of the events Amazon cited as grounds for its decision occurred months before the June 17, 2013 account suspension. Amazon ended its August 20th conversation with H2F stating that it had still not received proper notice from Apple regarding the withdrawal of Apple's complaint.
"On August 20, 2013, H2F again contacted Apple and again asked Apple to withdraw its complaint against H2F. To H2F's query Apple stated that the two reasons it filed the infringement complaint were (1) H2F's association of the iPad covers with a 'troublesome ASIN' and (2) H2F's 'aggressive price point,'" according to the complaint.
H2F claims it has nothing to do with ASIN numbers, which stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number, which are assigned by Amazon.
H2F says it appealed again, and Amazon claimed Apple had filed another infringement complaint.
"Amazon did not respond to H2F's appeal but, on October 31, 2013, informed H2F of another Apple infringement complaint - a complaint that had no basis in fact because H2F had not conducted business since June 18, 2013 - the day Amazon shut it down," according to the complaint.
H2F claims it has lost $180,112 a month due to its closed account.
It seeks damages from Amazon for breach of contract, violations of the Washington Uniform Money Services Act, breach of faith and breach of fiduciary duty. It seeks damages from Apple for defamation and tortious interference. It seeks damages from both companies for antitrust violations, violation of the Consumer Protection Act and unjust enrichment.
Hard 2 Find is represented by Matthew Crotty with the Crotty & Son Law Firm in Spokane.