Angie’s List Says Amazon Stole Its Stuff

     INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – Amazon used fraudulent accounts to steal valuable information from Angie’s List to set up a competing website, Angie’s List says in a demand for punitive damages.
     Angie’s List demands damages for computer trespass, theft, conspiracy, conversion, theft of trade secrets and eight other counts, in its June 19 lawsuit. Lead defendant Amazon Local is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com.
     Angie’s List claims that Amazon Local and its employees breached and tortiously interfered with contracts by violating its membership agreement to identify credible service providers and solicit their business.
     To steal this information, Amazon Local employees signed up for Angie’s List accounts, some under false names and addresses, and searched for businesses, many of them far away from their homes, Angie’s List says.
     Angie’s List, founded in 1995, provides members with reviews of service provides, such as plumbers, electricians and painters in their area. It’s spent two decades gathering and winnowing these reviews for reliability, it says in its lengthy complaint. Its membership agreement “explicitly prohibits the use of Angie’s List’s accounts and information for commercial purposes,” according to the lawsuit.
     Amazon Local calls itself a “local deals website that offers up to 75% savings on local services, products, and experiences.” Since June 2014, it “has pushed into the home services procurement market, offering deals from allegedly ‘handpicked pros,'” directly competing with Angie’s List, according to the complaint.
     “To be clear, Angie’s List welcomes the competition, but it expects that its competitors will comply with the law. Defendants, as set forth herein, have not done so,” Angie’s List says. It claims that Amazon surreptitiously and fraudulently stole its proprietary information about “thousands of service providers.”
     Angie’s List also sued 21 Amazon Local employees, with job titles such as regional marketing consultant, account executive and project launch specialist.
     Angie’s List claims that defendant Kristin Baker, a “project launch specialist, used her account to contact a business and tell it: “I am reaching out to see if you would be interested in doing a similar offer on Amazon as you are doing on Angie’s List.”
     Defendant Samantha McDonald, an Amazon Local “regional marketing consultant,” did the same thing, sending an Angie’s List contact a message: “I’m reaching out to you because I work for Amazon.com and run our site in the Syracuse area that features local businesses to our Amazon.com shoppers in your area. We are looking to feature a chimney sweeping offer to our customers and I came across your business on Angie’s List and see you have great reviews,” according to the complaint.
     Angie’s List seeks an injunction, delivery of all the Angie’s List information the attendants allegedly stole, liquidated damages, treble damages and punitive damages for the charges listed above and breach of contract, unfair competition, and violation of the Stored Communications Act.
     It is represented by George Gasper, with Ice Miller.

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