A US campus retailing group has filed a lawsuit against Purdue University in Indiana, claiming that it is withholding public information about its contract with Amazon.
The university worked with Amazon to launch the Purdue Student Store last August. This saw the online retailer create its first staffed customer pickup locations on the university’s campus, offering discounts of up to 30% on textbooks with a percentage of eligible sales through the store being returned to the university..
The National Association of College Stores Inc (NACS), which represents more than 3,000 stores serving schools across the US, submitted a public records request for all documents between the university and Amazon that month but several parts of the contract it received were redacted, according to local news service WLFI.
The non-profit group claims that the university is violating the Indiana Access to Public Records Act by not providing them with the full contract.
Purdue’s legal counsel Steve Schultz said on behalf of the university: “The redacted portions in the Purdue contract contain material that Amazon insisted should not be disclosed by Purdue on the basis that it is an Amazon trade secret. Under Indiana law, if something is identified as a trade secret by the trade secret owner, Purdue is obligated not to disclose it. In short, the redactions at issue were not Purdue’s decision.”
The redacted sections in question include the square footage of the Amazon stores, information about ending the contract and content categorised as “special programs.”
Representatives from NACS released a statement saying: “It’s important to keep in mind that from the association’s standpoint, the lawsuit should not be seen as 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.”
As well as the partnership with Purdue University, Amazon has linked up with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the University of California, Davis to offer students next day delivery on campus if they are Amazon Student Prime members and is reportedly looking to make more inroads into the bricks and mortar market.