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Internet Classified Ads Become Antitrust Battleground

Posted  October 11, 2012

craigslist, the popular classified ad website, faces monopolization and unfair competition claims now that 3Taps Inc., a website that indexes data, has filed a counterclaim in craigslist, Inc. v. 3Taps, Inc. et al., a copyright infringement lawsuit.

In July, craigslist filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming copyright infringement by defendants 3Taps and PadMapper, Inc., who are alleged to have “mass-harvest[ed] and redistribute[d]” craigslist content and violated its trademarks.  3Taps redistributes listings on craigslist to Web developers, which increases the availability of such classified ads, but without the permission of craigslist, which alleges that it is entrusted with its users’ personal contact information.

In its counterclaim, 3Taps acknowledges that the company redistributes craigslist data but alleges that it is merely gathering public information from third party search engines, such as Google or Bing.  3Taps alleges that craigslist has misused its dominant market position through the misuse of cease-and-desist letters and copyright infringement suits, because the information 3Taps indexes allegedly “is factual material not subject to copyright protection.”

The counterclaim alleges that “[m]arkets served inefficiently by an overwhelmingly dominant participant like craigslist are entitled to ‘liberation’ from anti-consumer inefficiencies, obstructions of fair use, and a range of other consumer-hostile behaviors that impede access to public information.”

3Taps’ counterclaim seeks damages and injunctive relief, including prohibiting craigslist from filing “sham lawsuits” and “engaging in copyright misuse.”

Tagged in: Antitrust Litigation,