Instacart Sues Uber’s Cornershop For Scraping Images

Grocery shopping and delivery platform Instacart filed a complaint against Cornershop Technologies, another grocery shopping and delivery platform, on Thursday in the Eastern District of Texas for copyright infringement, specifically for scraping and using Instacart’s copyrighted images on its own platform.  Cornershop is owned by rideshare giant Uber. 

Instacart alleged that in May, Cornershop launched its operations in Texas and Florida and was planning on expanding across the United States. “But instead of competing fairly, Cornershop has illegally accessed and scraped Instacart’s Platform, copying and using without authorization thousands of copyrighted and licensed images, along with product descriptions, pricing data, and other information taken from Instacart – all while falsely representing to its customers and the world that these materials are licensed or owned by Cornershop.” These allegedly stolen images and information have been posted onto Cornershop’s platform. Instacart added that “[t]o conceal its wrongdoing, Cornershop has changed the file names on the images it has stolen from Instacart.” As a result, Instacart alleged that Cornershop has gained an unfair advantage against Instacart.

“Instacart’s catalog is the largest online grocery inventory in the world, with over half a billion item listings from over 400 different retailers from over 30,000 stores across North America. It is made up of over 70 data sources, including third-party content aggregators, manufacturers, and proprietary copyrighted images taken as part of Instacart’s Mobile Photo Studio (‘MoPho Studio’).” Instacart added that it invested at least $17 million since 2015 to create and maintain the catalog and system, which is the foundation to its grocery and delivery service. Instacart stated that produce, meats and rare items often had no images, which created a poor customer experience; the image catalogue that it created helped to improve customer experience. The images on Instacart’s platform are a combination of images that Instacart photographed or licensed, however, Cornershop has allegedly scraped and stolen these copyrighted images without permission or a license.

Instacart added that scraping is a part of Cornershop’s business model, pointing to job openings whose duties include scraping and maintaining catalogues. Instacart stated that an investigation revealed that Cornershop agreed to its terms of service, including an anti-scraping provision. The investigation also revealed that Cornershop has “scraped and copied at least 2,199 of Instacart’s copyrighted photos, along with proprietary product and pricing data.” Furthermore, Instacart proffered that Cornershop has removed or altered the copyright management information from Instacart’s images that it scraped. As a result, Instacart claimed that Cornershop infringed its photographs and data, while “pass[ing] off Instacart’s catalog as its own.” Instacart stated that as a result of this aforementioned conduct, it has been irreparably harmed. Instacart notified Cornershop about its alleged infringement.

Cornershop is accused of breach of contract, copyright infringement, civil conspiracy and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the federal Copyright Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Texas Harmful Access by a Computer Act, Texas fair competition laws, and Instacart’s Terms of Service.

Instacart has sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to stop Cornershop’s alleged violations, declaratory judgment of Cornershop’s infringement and other violations, an award for damages and other relief as determined by the court.

Instacart is represented by Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP.