Amazon’s deal with Purdue University prompts a lawsuit

April 2, 2015 11:24 AM

Purdue University and Inc. came to terms that allowed Amazon in February to open a staffed customer order pickup and drop-off location on Purdue’s West Lafayette, Ind., campus. Now a trade association that represents college store operators wants complete access to those contract terms.

The National Association of College Stores Inc. last week filed a lawsuit against Purdue in Tippecanoe Superior Court, in Tippecanoe County, Ind., , over access to the contract. Purdue, as a public university, has to comply with Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act and make its contracts available. It did release the contract to the association previously, however it redacted portions that, according to Purdue, Amazon says are trade secrets. There is another Indiana law that prohibits the disclosure of trade secrets.

“The redacted portions in the Purdue contract that are the subject of the suit contain materials that Amazon insisted should not be disclosed by Purdue on the basis that they are Amazon trade secrets,” says Steve Schultz, Purdue’s legal counsel. “Under Indiana law, if something is identified as a trade secret by the trade secret owner, Purdue is obliged not to disclose it. In short, the redactions at issue were not Purdue’s decision. Purdue’s sole focus on the Amazon relationship has been on achieving a meaningful cost savings for its students.”

Amazon did not respond to an inquiry about the suit. It is not named as a defendant in the suit.

In a statement provided to Internet Retailer, The National Association of College Stores says the suit is not intended to be an “antagonistic or confrontational move. It’s only about getting as much information as we can about an important arrangement for the industry and for students, to understand the most they can about it.”

The Amazon@Purdue location on Purdue’s campus is Amazon’s first staffed customer order pickup and drop-off location. Starting this spring, all Purdue students can get free one-day shipping on textbooks shipped to campus, Purdue and Amazon say. More than 1 million items available for sale on are eligible for free one-day pickup at the Amazon@Purdue location. A second on-campus Amazon@Purdue location will open this summer.

"Whether students are ordering textbooks, laptops or mac and cheese, Amazon and Purdue are now providing a convenient and secure spot for them to pick up their stuff at hours that work with their schedules. We look forward to bringing this experience to more universities soon," Paul Ryder, vice president of media and student programs at Amazon, said in February when Purdue and Amazon jointly announced the launch of Amazon@Purdue. 




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