buySAFE Sues Google Over “Trusted Stores” Service, Fears Annihilation

Google was hit with yet another patent lawsuit last week, but this one at least makes for some very, very interesting reading.

A company called buySAFE, which offers a safe-shopping service to online retailers and their customers, argues that the search and advertising juggernaut not only infringes a patent it owns by preparing the launch of a similar service called Google Trusted Stores, but that it has also gone to great lengths to obtain proprietary business information and is pushing buySAFE customers hard to switch.

Furthermore, the company claims that Google may have timed the roll-out of its free Trusted Stores program “so as to impede buySAFE’s effort to raise additional capital”, which it says it requires to expand its business. According to buySAFE, “Google’s acts and practices have a dangerous probability of driving (the company) from the market”.

In fact, buySAFE says Google’s actions have “already succeeded in drastically slowing buySAFE’s annual growth rate”. And to think almost no one knows Google Trusted Stores even exists today.

BuySAFE says it offers online merchants and buyers a patented method for guaranteeing transactions, and that Google is infringing on this patent with the roll-out of Google Trusted Stores, which is still in a very early stage (read more about Google’s new program here).

According to buySAFE, Google has been seeking a partnership, and has even explored the possibility of a joint-venture, with them since 2006. In the lawsuit, the company claims:

“Google exploited those discussions to learn about buySAFE’s business.

Although buySAFE ultimately broke off discussions with Google, Google’s interest in buySAFE’s business continued.”

Additionally, the company says, Google obtained proprietary business information from Tom Fallows, a former executive of a buySAFE customers who was recruited by the search giant in 2010 to establish and run Trusted Stores as Group Product Manager.

As a result, buySAFE claims, Trusted Stores is “modeled after buySAFE’s business and patented methods and systems”.

It gets better.

BuySAFE also accuses Google of offering higher search result rankings to e-retailers that participate in the Trusted Stores program, and that one merchant was even told that they could not participate in both Trusted Stores and the buySAFE program and thus had to make an exclusive choice.

They say they’ve learned this from a few of their customers who were pitched by Google, but if this proved to be true, Google would be in really deep shit. Serious accusations, those are (/Yoda voice).

As I said, not a bad read at all. Find the lawsuit documents below: