VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - The company that runs Ashley Madison, an online service for married people seeking affairs, claims in court that the Republic of Korea and the Korea Communications Standards Commission wrongfully blocked its website after its South Korean launch in April this year.
Ontario-based Avid Life Media claims in Federal Court that the shutdown creates "an uneven market playing field in Canada in the business of communication and social networking within and among Canada's consumers within the Korean-Canadian and Asian-Canadian communities."
Avid Life claims that the defendants "engaged in uncompetitive acts by excluding the plaintiff from South Korea, with the purpose and effect of providing an unfair advantage to Korean communications companies and social networking businesses."
Ashley Madison operates in 30 countries as a "social network designed to connect like-minded people," according to the complaint.
Within a few weeks of launching in South Korea, more than 50,000 people had signed up and the site garnered "significant press coverage," the claim states. When Ashley Madison was blocked, Avid Life says, it appealed to the Korean Communications Standards Commission, but the appeal was dismissed when the commission found the site contained unspecified "illegal information." The company's offer to modify the website, which it has done in other nations, was rebuffed.
"No sexual interaction can take place on the plaintiff's website any more than it can by individuals using other websites that the defendants permit to operate freely," the complaint states.
The ban is an uncompetitive business practice in a country that holds itself out as a free-market economy, the company claims, and is akin "to the Canadian Government banning the sale of Samsung (a Korean company) phones in order to cement the consumer position of a Canadian corporation such as Research in Motion (which makes Blackberry Phones) in the marketplace." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Avid life seeks damages for loss of revenue, lost profits, and an order that the defendants stop blocking the site.
It is represented by Corey D. Steinberg with Double Diamond Law Corp. in Whistler, B.C.