After months of speculation about its next move, has struck back at Wal-Mart with an exhaustive countersuit.

In papers filed in Washington Superior Court, the online bookseller alleges that Wal-Mart practiced unfair competition, violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act, interfered with prospective employees and engaged in libel, slander and business defamation. The company is seeking damages and court costs and to have the suit against it dropped.

In October, Wal-Mart filed a lawsuit against, charging the online bookseller with stealing trade secrets through its hiring of Wal-Mart employees and employees of Wal-Mart vendors., now an partner, was also named in the suit. (News, Oct. 26, 1998).

An spokesman declined to comment on the countersuit. According to the papers, the company recruited only a small number of Wal-Mart employees and did not attempt to steal trade secrets.

Deal with

In an unrelated development, has announced a co-branding venture with, the online arm of the computer manufacturer. Dell customers can now link to a customized page on Amazon, and vice versa.