EBay takes Amazon to court over alleged trader poaching

The lawsuit alleges that Amazon has been abusing eBay systems to steal high-value sellers for years.

EBay has filed a lawsuit against Amazon which claims the e-commerce giant has been covertly poaching high-value traders from its marketplace.

The lawsuit, filed in a court located in Santa Clara County, California, alleges that Amazon "perpetrated a scheme to infiltrate and exploit eBay's internal member email system" over the last few years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Dozens" of Amazon sales representatives allegedly misused the communications platform, in the US and abroad, to recruit eBay sellers on Amazon's behalf.

The lawsuit has been filed roughly two weeks after eBay sent Amazon a cease-and-desist letter relating to the alleged scheme.

As reported by sister site CNET, eBay claimed to have uncovered years' worth of evidence which revealed an "an international, coordinated and illegal effort to target eBay's best sellers and move them over to Amazon's site."

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Amazon staff allegedly contacted both businesses and individuals repeatedly through eBay's communication platform in order to urge them to migrate over to Amazon and abandon eBay. The scheme allegedly traces back to Amazon headquarters.

EBay added that unless the claimed, illegal operation stopped immediately, the company would take "appropriate steps" to protect itself.

"For years, and unbeknownst to eBay, Amazon has been engaged in a systematic, coordinated effort to infiltrate and exploit eBay's proprietary M2M system on eBay's platform to lure top eBay sellers to Amazon," the online marketplace alleged.

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Amazon and eBay are rivals in the online sales space. Both companies allow individuals and businesses to set up shop on their platforms in order to list and sell products.

Commissions made on the basis of these traders is key to both companies -- although, perhaps, more so for eBay considering Amazon's vast business offshoots -- and so high-value traders are considered precious commodities.

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In September, Amazon's valuation briefly reached $1 trillion. At the time of writing, Amazon's share price is $1,831, while eBay's stock commands a price of $32.02.

Amazon declined to comment for this story. EBay pointed ZDNet to the court filing but declined to comment further.

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