Uber’s Cornershop business to face lawsuit for alleged intellectual property theft

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

One of the first things Uber will have to face since acquiring Chilean food delivery company, Cornershop, is a lawsuit filed by rival grocery service, Instacart.

Instacart is suing Uber’s Cornershop business for allegedly stealing its product images, descriptions, and pricing data in what amounts to intellectual property theft.

Instacart said in a statement: “We’re incredibly proud of the marketplace we’ve built in partnership with more than 400 retailers across North America. In order to do this, we’ve invested tens of millions of dollars and a tireless amount of effort across our teams to build the world’s largest and most comprehensive grocery catalogue.

“This has required us to develop proprietary technology and operations to collect, photograph and curate items from more than 30,000 store locations across the markets we serve.

“This work has been critical to Instacart’s success in creating excellent experiences for our customers, shoppers, retailers and advertisers.

“Our mission is to create a world where everyone has access to food they love and more time to enjoy it together. We believe that this mission is an inherently positive one and we’re supportive of companies that want to help achieve it.

“While we welcome competition and innovation, what Cornershop is doing is illegal. Through a recent investigation, we discovered that Cornershop has brazenly stolen our catalog, concealing this theft and passing off this work as their own.

“Specifically, we found that Cornershop has engaged in a systematic effort to steal Instacart’s IP and exhibited egregious behavior, including:

  • Stealing thousands of Instacart copyrighted images to use across their app and website — many of which were developed by our team using our own Mobile Photo Studio.

  • Modifying file names in order to conceal the ownership of the images.

  • Posting jobs for engineers with ‘advanced scraping’ and “bypassing ‘rate limiting’” skills that indicate that this is a strategic effort for the company.

“Upon discovery of this activity, we immediately sent Cornershop a cease and desist and, when they failed to comply, we were forced to bring this lawsuit. We don’t take the decision to litigate lightly, but believe today’s actions are necessary to protect our business and our retail partners from Cornershop’s ongoing theft.”

In response, as first reported by a number of sources, including Financial Times, Uber said: “Instacart is facing a new challenge in the US from a Chilean upstart, and it’s unfortunate that their first move is litigation instead of competition.”

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