Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Judge Says Amazon Played With Toys In a Childish Way - Portals By LEE GOMES: "Amazon ended up on the losing end of a lawsuit brought by Toys "R" Us, the big retailer. At issue was an August 2000 contract between the two that made them partners in selling toys online. The relationship started off strongly, but after a few years began to sour. Toys "R" Us believed the deal made it the exclusive toy seller at Amazon. The Web retailer, though, had other ideas, and slowly began offering toys from other sources.

The judge portrayed Amazon as being secretly contemptuous of its business partners and slippery, bordering on mendacious, in dealing with the court."

Perhaps Judge McVeigh was sympathetic to the home team; Toys "R" Us has its headquarters in New Jersey. But she was strikingly unimpressed by Amazon's superstar status in the online world. The most startling example involves her biting descriptions of the testimony of Mr. Bezos, Amazon's legendary founder.

The judge also suggested that Mr. Bezos had a selective memory, and used different definitions of a word to suit his purposes. Not since the widely mocked testimony of Bill Gates during the Microsoft antitrust trial has a well-known executive not under indictment come across so poorly in a court case.

She noted, for instance, that Amazon was felicitous in its use of language, especially with tech-sounding buzz phrases. An example is what Amazon called "programmatic selling initiatives." These covered relations Amazon would have with sellers other than Toys "R" Us, and were allowed under the contract."

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