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Owner of travel deals website sued for unfair competition

When starting a business that's completely legitimate, business owners may not expect a lawsuit, but sometimes that's exactly what happens. Business litigation can occur any time professionals in another company feel that their rights or interests are being threatened. This appears to be the case for a young New York City entrepreneur, whose online company helped people across the country, including in Texas, find the best deals on airplane tickets.

According to a lawsuit filed by United Airlines and Orbitz, the 22-year-old owner of Skiplagged.com is being accused of unfair competition. The website takes advantage of a strategy called "hidden city" ticketing that many frequent fliers have utilized for years. With hidden city ticketing, travelers take a flight with a layover at their actual destination and get off at the layover point. For example, a traveler who wants to disembark in Houston can buy a one-way ticket to Phoenix with a layover in Houston if it is cheaper than other flights.

This strategy is not illegal, but United Airlines and Orbitz say that it promotes prohibited travel techniques, and they want to be paid $75,000 in lost revenue. The owner of Skiplagged.com says that he has made no profit with his business but only wanted to help others get good prices on their airline fares.

This illustrates how business disputes can arise even if another company is not being unethical or breaking the law. In this case, the owner of the website expected an eventual lawsuit. However, business owners can protect their interests by consulting with a business attorney when legal issues come up.

Source: Fox 13, "United Airlines sues 22-year-old who found method for buying cheaper plane tickets," Dec. 31, 2014

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