Amazon.com sues Amazon.gr on gangster laws

Amazon accuses Greg Lloyd Smith of being little better than a mobster for using www.amazon.gr and billing it as Greece's Biggest Bookstore.
Written by Michael Fitzgerald, Contributor

Amazon.com has sued the operator of a Greek Web site, accusing him of violating its trademarks and copyrights.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Delaware federal court against Greg Lloyd Smith, alleges that Smith and his affiliated companies operate the domains "amazon.gr" and "amazon.com.gr", which they market as "Amazon.gr, Greece's Biggest Bookstore." Amazon.com said it was also accusing Smith of violating the US' Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statutes, which were written to combat organised crime.

Amazon.com said it named both Smith and his wife, Aikaterini Theochari, who live in Greece. They accuse the couple of approaching them on 3 May and offering to sell the online retailer a controlling interest in their company, CITI Services, for $1.63m (£1m). CITI Services is registered as a corporation in Delaware.

The effort to get Amazon.com to try to buy their company "was a thinly veiled shakedown", alleged Amazon.com spokesman Bill Curry. He said that this effort, plus the subsequent alleged infringement of Amazon's name and marketing efforts, caused the company to ask for the RICO consideration. Amazon has also sued CITI in Greece.

Attempts to reach Smith or a company spokesman were unsuccessful. CITI Services' US number was answered by an answering service, and the number for its office in Mykonos, Greece was repeatedly busy. On its Web site, CITI Services says it is engaged in a variety of businesses, among them Internet services, tourism and book publishing.

Curry said that Amazon.com also filed the suit, its first of this sort, to send a message to other squatters. "It won't be the last" of these suits, Curry said. "One of the messages we want to send with this is you can run but you can't hide." He said that Amazon.com is seeking treble damages, though the company has not yet discerned how much business it may have lost to Smith's company.

Curry said he did not know whether Amazon.com had approached the domain name registrar that assigned the names to Smith's company.

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