After launching an electronic assault on local shops and abusing sick and pregnant warehouse workers, Amazon.com has been sued for ripping off and royally screwing over in every other possible way a partner that made Kindle cases. Maybe the e-tailer's 2011 New Year's resolution was "be evil constantly."
A federal lawsuit filed Thursday by M-Edge Accessories LLC accuses Amazon of all manner of bullying. According to M-Edge, it agreed in Nov. 2009 to pay Amazon a roughly 15 percent commission for the right to sell Kindle cases. That deal was supposed to last three years, but after two months, M-Edge says, Amazon demanded 32 percent and threatened to take M-Edge cases off its website if the company refused. M-Edge refused. About a year and a half later, Amazon demanded it agree to the onerous new terms, this time threatening to bury M-Edge in Amazon search results where "no one will be able to find you." With Amazon providing 90 percent of the company's revenue, it agreed, shelling out $6.5 million in additional fees.
Finally, Amazon just went ahead and violated M-Edge's patent, the company claims, and began making its own Kindle case with a built-in light just like the M-Edge. Then it dropped M-Edge from its list of "Amazon Approved Accessory Vendors," even though M-Edge had been paying for just such a right, and began to falsely list M-Edge cases as "currently unavailable" on its website. Of course these allegations won't come as a huge surprise to anyone who follows how Amazon normally treats its customers, workers, and competitors. But it still sounds surprisingly evil. Maybe when Anderson Cooper tried to warn us about Amazon, we should have listened, mmm?
[Image of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos via Getty Images.]