Ebay sues Amazon, saying it tried to poach its sellers

Daniel Acker—Bloomberg Finance

EBay has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the U.S. retail giant of using illegal tactics to recruit sellers.

The lawsuit, filed in Santa Clara County in California, accuses Amazon of having "perpetrated a scheme to infiltrate and exploit eBay's internal member email system" over the past few years.

Amazon has more customers, sales and faster growth than EBay, but some sellers prefer the EBay platform since it is a pure marketplace, meaning EBay doesn't compete with its merchants for sales like Seattle-based Amazon. That allowed Amazon representatives to contact hundreds of eBay sellers, asking them to switch to Amazon, according to the lawsuit.

Three accounts created by one person sent more than 120 messages to sellers without conducting any actual business on the platform, eBay alleges.

Additionally, when Amazon contacted the sellers, it broke up its emails and phone numbers by using periods and spelling out addresses. eBay says this was Amazon's attempt to avoid detection and proof it knew it was breaking the rules.

The lawsuit comes two weeks after eBay sent a cease-and-desist letter to Amazon, saying it had uncovered evidence, going back years, of the alleged poaching effort.

Last year, more than half of the items sold by Amazon came from third-party merchants.

Ebay, based in San Jose, California, said it wants Amazon to stop misusing its messaging platform and to pay it an unspecified amount.

Both companies rely on independent sellers to boost their revenue.

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