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Amazon.com sues Amazon.gr

Beware of Greeks bearing websites

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Amazon.com is suing a British company because it alleges it is engaged in "extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud, and criminal copyright violations that form a pattern of racketeering activity". The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. It alleges that Greg Lloyd Smith, who runs a number of companies including Leeds-based CITI Services Ltd, ripped off the Amazon site to create Amazon.gr and Amazon.com.gr -- "Greece's Biggest Bookstore". The lawsuit alleges that Smith is engaged in a "thinly veiled shakedown" of Amazon.com and is trading upon its global success to make money. Smith and his wife, Aikaterini Theochari, who live in Greece, are personally named in the suit, as are two of Smith's companies, CITI Services, Inc. (a holding corporation organised under the laws of Delaware in the US) and CITI Services Limited. "Amazon.com... has become a target for those willing to engage in unscrupulous business practices," said Bill Curry, a spokesman for Amazon.com. "We take it seriously when someone engages in unfair business practices and tries to pass himself off as connected to Amazon.com." "With this lawsuit, we're putting other Amazon.com copycats and cybersquatters on notice: You can run, but you can't hide," he warned. The defendants contacted Amazon.com on 3 May and informed the company they were using the name Amazon Greece. They offered to sell a controlling interest in CITI to Amazon.com for $1,632,000 but the world's biggest online bookstore refused to "comply with this thinly veiled shakedown". No one from CITI Services Ltd was available for comment today although there is a disclaimer on the Amazon.gr site which reads: "We are not affiliated with Amazon.com, Inc." ®

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