Lawsuit Claims Amazon Local Stole Provider Lists, Other Info From Rival Angie’s List

angieslistamazonThough some might say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, achieving that verisimilitude by stealing information from a competitor is not going to go over well. That’s what Angie’s List is alleging in a new lawsuit against upstart Amazon Local, a subsidiary of the ecommerce giant, claiming that the new rival on the scene boosted provider lists and other proprietary information from Angie’s website.

The federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, where Angie’s List is based, accuses Amazon Local executives and some employees of gaining access to Angie’s information by signing up as members of the site, then copying provider profiles, member reviews and other information, reports the Indianapolis Star.

Angie’s List says in the lawsuit that Amazon Local is taking all those juicy details and using it to build up its competing service. The company says its member agreement “explicitly prohibits the use of Angie’s List’s accounts and information for commercial purposes.”

According to the lawsuit, more than a dozen Amazon employees named as co-defendants in the lawsuit violated those terms. Basically, Angie’s says Amazon Local is acting like the popular kid in class mooching off a smarter classmate’s test.

“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,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also claims Amazon Local tried to sign up businesses using names obtained from Angie’s List online profiles, by going over provider lists to find the top-rated companies and, in some cases, using the site’s own messaging system to contact them and try to bring them over to the Amazon Local side.

Amazon is new on the scene, debuting Amazon Local last year as a test, and recently re-dubbing its home services section, aptly, Amazon Home Services. Much like Angie’s List, the goal is to connect customers with plumbers, home repair services, electricians and the like when they need something done around the home.

Angie’s List was founded in 1995, and has a national listing of those same types of businesses. Members then rank the services, and others can check out those rankings when deciding which service to hire.

Among the charges aimed at Amazon Local: Misappropriation of trade secrets, theft, computer trespass, civil conspiracy and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Angie’s List is seeking unspecified damages, and wants Amazon Local banned from using information taken from Angie’s.

“Angie’s List has spent more than 20 years developing our substantial database of proprietary information relating to home improvement service providers, consumer preferences and expectations, and industry standards across the country,” a spokeswoman said. “This information is available to Angie’s List customers for personal use — not for other businesses to use for commercial gain. We welcome competition, but on fair and legal grounds.”

Amazon didn’t reply to the Indy Star’s request for comment.

Angie’s List sues Amazon Local [Indianapolis Star]

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