LEWISTON — A small company that makes its money by reselling products on the web is fighting in federal court to prevent the Texas-based Pickle Juice Co. from cramping its bottom line.

Bags, LLC filed a lawsuit Friday alleging the briny beverage seller and its executive vice president had blocked it from selling products through Amazon by filing false reports that it sold counterfeit pickle juice with the online giant.

Pickle Juice, which has been used by elite athletes with increasing frequency, is touted as something that can relieve muscle cramps. Pickle Juice Co.

The Pickle Juice Co.’s product “has nothing to do with pickles” except that it carries a slight pickle taste because of the vinegar that’s among its secret ingredients, its executive vice president, Filip Keuppens, told the BBC recently.

Its Pickle Juice, which has been used by elite athletes with increasing frequency, is touted as something that can relieve muscle cramps. Its sales have been skyrocketing.

Keuppens told the BBC it has been “happy and lucky” to see its sales rising, but the firm has complained that counterfeiters are becoming a problem for it.

The Lewiston firm, formed in 2018 and located at 65 East Ave., appears from its July 5 filing with the U.S. District Court in Maine to have been among the companies reselling Pickle Juice on Amazon, which is legal. It has a resellers license from the state of Maine.

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The problem alleged in its lawsuit is that Pickle Juice, through a complaint filed by Keuppens, has formally complained to Amazon that Bags, LLC has infringed on its intellectual property in the process.

But Pickle Juice, in a written response, said it had tried three times to “communicate policy failure” to Bags, LLC before blocking them from selling the product.

“We require all suppliers to follow our clearly outlined brand protection policies,” the company said, as part of its effort to ensure “a high standard for our line of functional products, the efficacy of our proprietary formulation and the quality of our distribution.”

The suit, filed by Auburn attorney Theodore Small, claims that Pickle Juice and Keuppens “knowingly and deliberately submit false reports of intellectual property infringement to online platforms” such as Amazon “in order to prevent third parties from reselling genuine products on the marketplace at competitive prices.”

It claims the “nefarious actions cause consumers to pay more for common goods and undermine Amazon’s competitive pricing policies.”

To buy a 12-pack of 8-ounce bottles on Pickle Juice’s own Amazon storefront cost $22.99 on Monday afternoon.

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There are many other firms selling pickle juice as well, but it’s not clear they are the same stuff. Keuppens said on the BBC that competitors sell pickle brine, which isn’t the same.

In any case, Pickle Juice’s complaint about Bags, LLC caused Amazon to question the Lewiston firm’s right to sell the product.

The lawsuit says it is well-known in the retail community that Amazon doesn’t actually investigate intellectual property infringement claims. It simply pulls the product listings from its site by those accused.

That’s what happened to Bags, LLC, according to the lawsuit, which claims the Lewiston firm “suffered special damages” when its listings “were removed from Amazon resulting in a direct and immediate loss of revenue.”

The lawsuit asks the federal court to provide help for the Maine firm in the face of “these tortious, defamatory and anticompetitive activities” by Pickle Juice.

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