Ebay is suing Amazon, claiming the e-commerce giant illegally leveraged its internal messaging service to poach high-value sellers.
The “startling” scheme was orchestrated by hundreds of Amazon reps with ties to the company’s Seattle headquarters, eBay said in its lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in California Superior Court in San Jose, California.
“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 said in the suit.
Ebay’s M2M system is the company’s member-t0-member emailing system and it claims that Amazon representatives “violated” its user agreement, which prohibits its M2M system from being used to lure sellers away. Amazon employees often recruited eBay sellers within five minutes of opening accounts, the lawsuit claims. Like Amazon, eBay relies on a network of independent sellers on its site.
Ebay, pointing to messages being nearly identical from several Amazon reps, said this was a “coordinated, targeted” attack “designed to inflict harm on eBay.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. The company told the Wall Street Journal it was conducting an investigation into eBay’s accusations.
Ebay added that Amazon was often successful in poaching sellers. “Amazon’s clandestine efforts have borne fruit. Its representatives have discussed the success 0f their scheme with eBay seller prospects.” The lawsuit said Amazon violated California’s penal code and business and professions code, with eBay seeking monetary damages and a court order prohibiting Amazon from recruiting more of its sellers.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.