QVC says shopping app overloaded search engine and disrupted web services

By Jim Boyle | Nov 25, 2014

Home retailing giant QVC, Inc. says that a mobile shopping app used webcrawling

Home retailing giant QVC, Inc. says that a mobile shopping app used webcrawling

technology to overload its internal search engines and disrupted the operation of the company servers, denying access to potential customers for three days, according to a suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Representatives from the West Chester, Pa.-based QVC seeks unspecified damages for the alleged interference by Resultly, LLC and its technology, the complaint says. The makers of the Resultly shopping app have been accused of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, prompting QVC to ask for an injunction preventing the software from using the retailer's website to crawl the prices and slowing down service.

According to the complaint, Resultly allegedly transmitted a webcrawling program between May 9 and May 11, 2014, to the QVC homepage disguised as individual online users and sent excessive requests that overloaded the network.

"The Program sent search requests on QVC’s website at rates ranging from 200-300 requests per minute to up to 36,000 requests per minute, which overloaded QVC’s website
and prevented QVC from being able to serve its customers," the complaint says. "The rates of search requests from typical search engines are significantly less than the rates of request that Defendant’s Program made on QVC’s website."

According to the claim, Resultly configured its program in a way that prevented QVC from
identifying the program as a web crawler, and instead disguised the Program as individual users using and sending search requests to QVC’s website.

Resultly also allegedly configured its program to cause several different Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses to be shown as the program’s source when network technicians attempted to trace the source, as opposed to the actual IP address from which the program requests originated. This configuration helped obscure that the Program’s search requests were coming from a web crawling.

"Resultly purposefully and intentionally prevented QVC from servicing and providing products to its customers when Resultly transmitted its Program and overloaded QVC’s website and network by disguising its web crawling Program as individual online users,
disguising its source IP address, and sending excessive requests," the complaint says.

The plantiffs are represented by Chad Rutkowski of Baker & Hostetler in Philadelphia.

The federal case ID is 2:14-cv-06714-EL.

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