3Taps Says Craigslist Trademark, Copyright Lawsuit Is Anti-Competitive

By Joseph Mandour on September 26, 2012

3taps-150x150 Los Angeles – Public listing database service 3Taps Inc. struck back on Monday at Craigslist Inc.’s copyright and trademark infringement claims against it, accusing Craigslist of exploiting its dominant position in the online classified ad business.

Craigslist sued 3Taps and PadMapper Inc. in the Northern District of California in July alleging their use of data gleaned from Craigslist’s listings violates Craigslist’s copyrights and trademarks.

“For their own commercial benefit, defendants 3Taps and PadMapper are unlawfully and unabashedly mass-harvesting and redistributing postings entrusted by Craigslist users to their local Craigslist sites,” Craigslist’s complaint says.

3Taps, on the other hand, contends in its counterclaims filed Monday that Craigslist’s legal actions constitute unfair competition and interference with economic advantage, and that Craigslist is a monopolist of certain markets for online classified advertising in violation of antitrust laws.

“Craigslist has an overwhelming share in numerous online classified ad markets and improperly maintains those monopoly shares through a broad-based, anti-competitive scheme,” 3Taps says. “Certainly, Craigslist has not maintained this power by competing on the merits. Indeed, for years, craigslist has espoused the classic principles of a monopolist that believed it did not need to compete: a “strategy” of “unbranding,” “demonetizing,” and “uncompeting” — the epitome of a lethargic monopolist.”

As an “unchallenged monopolist” across various markets, Craigslist has generated revenues of $100 milion to $300 million per year without sinking any significant costs into research and development or innovation, according to 3Taps.

To protect its position, Craigslist files serial sham cease and desist letters and shaw lawsuits like the one in question against 3Taps and PadMapper, 3Taps says.

The data indexed by 3Taps is factual material not subject to copyright protection, and to the extent the user postings are entitled to copyright protection, Craigslist does not have standing to enforce these copyrights because it is neither the owner nor exclusive licensee of this content, 3Taps says. Craigslist’s conduct also amounts to copyright misuse, according to 3Taps.

“Nevertheless, even with knowledge that its claims utterly lack merit, Craigslist has threatened and filed lawsuits as part of a policy intended to intimidate innovators and force them to cease competing with Craigslist,” the counterclaims say. “Craigslist has sucked the oxygen out of the innovation demanded by consumers and will continue to do so unless enjoined by this court.”

Craigslist already has caused 3Taps significant injury in the form of millions of dollars of lost sunk cost investments and lost opportunities with its partners, the company claims.

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