Chicago-based accounting firm BDO Seidman has filed a lawsuit against the AICPA, the AICPA's for-profit Web portal, CPA2Biz, and Shared Services LLC, a combination of the AICPA and state CPA societies that have licensed their members' data for use by the portal, alleging unfair business practices and asking that the portal be enjoined from further business.
The essence of the complaint is an accusation of violation of federal antiturst laws in conspiring to give the portal unfair advantages in delivering products and services for CPAs to offer to their clients. BDO claims in its suit that the AICPA, CPA2Biz, and Shared Services LLC conspired to "wrongfully fix prices for products and services without competition in a free, open and unrestricted market." BDO claims to have been damaged by CPA2Biz, although the extent of those damages have not been specified.
The AICPA has responded in a published statement, "We believe that this lawsuit has no merit and intend to defend it vigorously. The essence of the complaint seems to be that the American Institute of CPAs has somehow restrained competition through the creation of a portal - CPA2BIZ -- which was developed by CPAs for CPAs, their clients and employers as a comprehensive provider of tools, resources, value-added services and solutions that strengthen and add value to the relationships between CPAs and the organizations they serve. We believe the complaint has no basis.
"The concept and substance of CPA2BIZ were presented to and reviewed by our 263 member governing Council more than a year ago. We respect the fact that BDO Seidman is a member and that they may have differences of opinion about our strategic direction."