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eBay is going to war with Amazon over an alleged scheme to steal business that is 'startling in breadth'

Isobel Asher Hamilton
Amazon

Getty/Rick T. Wilking


  • eBay is suing Amazon for allegedly infiltrating eBay's internal messaging system to poach high-value sellers.
  • The suit claims that the scheme was "startling in breadth," and coordinated from Amazon's headquarters.
  • eBay says messages were sent from a broad range of countries, and some were successful.
  • Amazon is investigating the issue.

eBay filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Wednesday alleging that it is has been illegally poaching high-value sellers by infiltrating eBay's internal messaging system.

eBay first accused Amazon of unlawfully poaching its sellers in early October. At the time, Amazon said it was investigating the allegations.

"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," eBay alleges in the suit.

M2M is the company's member-to-member contact system, which allows sellers to communicate with each other, eBay, and customers.

"The scheme is startling in breadth — involving large numbers of Amazon representatives ("Amazon reps"), targeting many hundreds of eBay sellers, and spanning several countries overseas and many states in the United States (including California)."

eBay also claims that Amazon coordinated the effort from its headquarters, citing the fact that many of the messages sent were similar or even identical to each other, and that many accounts used to send the messages were attached to devices linked to Amazon internet protocol addresses.

eBay alleges that three accounts created by a single individual sent over 120 messages to sellers, and that Amazon representatives admitted they were breaking eBay's rules. 

eBay also says some of the Amazon representatives were successful in poaching sellers, openly discussing their exploits with those they were targetting. "Amazon's clandestine efforts have borne fruit. Its representatives have discussed the success 0f their scheme with eBay seller prospects," the suit claims.

Amazon declined to comment. Elsewhere, it referred The Wall Street Journal to a previous statement in which it said it was carrying out a thorough investigation into the allegations.

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