(Bloomberg) -- Instacart Inc. sued a grocery-delivery business that Uber Technologies Inc. said it was acquiring last year, alleging that the unit, Cornershop, stole intellectual property, including listings of inventory at grocery stores.
The lawsuit, filed in Texas, said Cornershop stole thousands of images from Instacart’s systems. Uber said it was buying a majority stake in Santiago-based Cornershop last year as part of a broader push into grocery delivery in various countries, including plans for the U.S. this month.
“Instacart is facing a new challenge in the U.S. from a Chilean upstart, and it’s unfortunate that their first move is litigation instead of competition,” a spokesman for Uber wrote in an emailed statement. “Cornershop will be responding to this complaint but won’t be deterred in bringing grocery delivery to more customers in the U.S.”
The coronavirus pandemic is driving a surge in demand for groceries and other food delivered to the home. Instacart has said it’s on track to process more than $35 billion in grocery sales this year. Meanwhile, the effects of the virus gutted Uber’s ride-hailing business, prompting the company to turn more of its focus to delivery. Uber said last week it’s acquiring another delivery company, Postmates Inc., for $2.65 billion.
Instacart claimed Cornershop stole copyrighted images and modified the file names in order to conceal the alleged theft. Instacart also said Cornershop posted job listings for software engineers with “advanced scraping” and other skills indicating that taking and reusing content is part of a company-mandated effort, according to the complaint.
The case is Instacart v. Cornershop Technologies Inc., 20-240, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall)
(Updates with Uber comment in the third paragraph.)
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