LAS VEGAS (CN) - A small business claims Amica Mutual Insurance bullies competitors with frivolous lawsuits to try to monopolize the Internet keyword advertising market.
In its federal complaint, Darba Enterprises claims to be the "latest victim" of Amica's campaign to send "misrepresentative cease and desist letters" to small businesses.
Darba claims Amica targets small businesses with threatening letters claiming they cannot bid on or use Internet keywords such as "Amica" in ads generated by Google, Yahoo! and MSN search engines, "even though the defendants ... bid and use Internet keywords that incorporate the trade names of the defendants' competitors in the insurance industry."
Darba says, "the defendants bully and sue small businesses for engaging in the same type of bidding and use of Internet keywords that the defendants do."
Amica sued Darba in March 2011 in Rhode Island.
Darba says that when it hired an attorney and answered the complaint, Amica recanted and said Darba was not a party to the lawsuit.
Darba claims Amica then asked the court to grant it "jurisdictional discovery" when it could not establish jurisdiction against Darba's shareholder, as opposed to dismissing or transferring the case to Nevada. It then "subpoenaed and harassed" Darba's vendors, affiliates and contacts for information concerning Darba's accounts, the complaint states.
Darba says Amica initiated the lawsuit against it with "knowledge that the doctrine of fair use absolutely bars such actions."
Darba seeks damages for antitrust violations, fraud, conspiracy, abuse of process, malicious prosecution and tortious interference.
It is represented by Phillip Odunze with Odunze & Swanigan.
Amica, founded in 1907, has $4.1 billion in assets and reported $1.7 billion in revenue in 2009 and has 3,200 employees, according to its own website and business profiles.
Darba was incorporated in Nevada in 2009 and has annual revenue of about $100,000 and 2 employees, according to manta.com, a business profile website.
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