Local Family-Owned Biz. Sues CareerBuilder

CustomGuide claims that CareerBuilder breached its contract when it sold some of CustomGuide's products to other businesses without permission.

St. Louis Park-based CustomGuide, Inc., has sued Chicago-based CareerBuilder for allegedly stealing and selling its copyrighted online learning products.

CustomGuide, a family-owned business that develops and sells online education products, has requested a jury trial.

According to court documents, which were filed Monday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, CareerBuilder approached CustomGuide about a deal through which CareerBuilder would sell some of CustomGuide's content.

During negotiations, CustomGuide allegedly told CareerBuilder that it would only allow sales of the products to individuals and not to other businesses because such sales would directly compete with CustomGuide's “lucrative business-to-business sales.”

CustomGuide said that a representative from CareerBuilder assured the company in early 2008 that it would only use CustomGuide's products for business-to-consumer sales, and the companies entered into a limited license agreement in February 2008.

“[CareerBuilder] contacted CustomGuide because they wanted to resell our courses to personal users,” Jon High, president of CustomGuide, said in a statement. “CustomGuide only sells to the [business-to-business] market, so it seemed like an exciting opportunity.”

CustomGuide claims that CareerBuilder made many attempts to extend the license agreement to include business-to-business sales, but CustomGuide refused to extend the agreement because it would have jeopardized CustomGuide's sales to its own target market.

However, even without a modified contract or license agreement, CareerBuilder took CustomGuide's content for business-to-business sales, according to the suit.

“In other words, CareerBuilder stole CustomGuide's product and made use of it in a market that was not part of the limited license agreement or any contract,” the suit said.

The suit also alleges that CareerBuilder put a testimonial on the home page of its Web site that praised a product identified as CareerBuilder's, but the testimonial actually referred to a CustomGuide product.

CareerBuilder owns and operates two Web sites: CareerBuilder.com-an online job site-and CareerBuilderInstitute.com-which provides training on computer, business, sales management, leadership, language, and other topics.

Several calls to a CareerBuilder representative requesting comment on the suit were not immediately returned.

CustomGuide's suit alleges 12 counts against CareerBuilder, including breach of contract, fraud, business tort and intellectual property claims, and other related actions.