EBay has filed a lawsuit against competing online marketplace Amazon, claiming that Amazon’s sales reps set up phony eBay accounts to lure high-volume sellers from its platform.
In a complaint filed Oct. 17 in the superior court of Santa Clara, Calif., eBay alleged that, for the last three years, dozens of Amazon reps—some using IPs that could be traced to the company—set up eBay accounts for the sole purpose of poaching its sellers.
“One Seattle-based Amazon representative opened three accounts in the course of a few weeks, sending solicitation emails to eBay sellers within minutes of opening each separate account,” the complaint reads. “Others waited less than five minutes between opening an account and sending solicitation messages.”
EBay’s complaint argues this conduct violates the site’s terms of service, which prohibits members from soliciting each other to sell outside the platform—and from exchanging personal information.
The Amazon reps “fraudulently promised to abide by [eBay’s] User Agreement and policies,” eBay’s filing charged, noting that Amazon’s user agreement contains similar restrictions for its sellers.
It further charged that “Amazon and its representatives knew that its scheme was wrong, as evidenced by the representatives’ systematic efforts to avoid detection.” For instance, one rep allegedly noted “eBay will not allow the exchange of email addresses in these messages,” and others said it scanned for a phone number.
The complaint further adds that, after a seller approached eBay a few weeks ago to report being solicited by Amazon, eBay sent its rival a cease-and-desist letter. But the Seattle-based e-tailer failed to provide the additional information eBay requested or to confirm it would cease the disputed conduct.
The suit charges intentional interference with contractual relations, fraud, and violations of California’s business code. It asks that Amazon’s reps be enjoined from further “misuses” of eBay’s internal mail system and seeks unspecified damages.
Amazon—which is reportedly looking into starting a jewelry line—declined comment to JCK. At press time, it has not responded to the complaint.