A New Zealand software company is suing Facebook, claiming the social networking giant damaged its business when it abruptly terminated a deal that gave the company access to data.
Profile Technology, which claims to have created the first-ever independent Facebook search engine, said Facebook suddenly cut off its access in late 2010, then embarked "on a campaign of destruction" to damage its reputation.
The company is asking for damages with an unspecified dollar amount, but that include compensation for lost profits.
Facebook has denied the allegations.
"We believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET news in the US.
Profile Technology's service, called the Profile Engine, went live in 2007 and was originally called Advanced Search, according to the search engine's website. More than ten million people created searchable profiles.
Early in 2008, Facebook allowed the Profile Engine to index the public parts of Facebook profiles, which allowed users to search that information, according to the company. As part of the contract, Profile Technology incorporated social-networking features into its search engine, including direct messaging to Facebook account holders whose profiles were listed in search results.
The engine indexed more than 420 million profiles as a result and Profile Technology started making money off advertisers independently of Facebook, according to the suit.
The suit, lodged in California's Superior Court last week by Profile Technology's lawyer Ira Rothken, claims that Facebook in October 2010 then shut off its access without warning and disabled the social-networking features for the search engine.
The company alleges Facebook disabled Profile Technology managing director Chris Claydon's profile and perpetuated the idea that the Profile Engine was unsafe, or a source of spam email, to keep other companies from doing business with Profile Technology.