Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Amazon Poached eBay Sellers?

Poaching was not always bad.

In the 1700s, food was so scare in some countries that many people poached just to survive. Poachers were practically a protected class because they also fed the poor.

Times change. Now eBay is suing Amazon for poaching its top sellers, but nobody in this story is poor.

Clash of the Titans

The online titans make billions in commissions from third-party sellers on their sites. eBay depends entirely on them; Amazon about half as much.

In the lawsuit, eBay says Amazon has been "recruiting" its high-value sellers in "a scheme to infiltrate and exploit eBay's internal member email system." That's how "recruiting" turned into "poaching."

"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.

eBay says the scheme came from the top, claiming Amazon sent identical messages to eBay sellers from Amazon addresses.

No Robin Hood

The poaching allegedly began in 2015, but eBay reportedly didn't find out until last month. The company sent a warning shot before filing suit.

"We have demanded that Amazon end its unlawful activity and we will take the appropriate steps, as needed, to protect eBay," the company told Reuters.

Back in the day, when poaching became criminal, authorities would have shot first and asked questions later. That's how Robin Hood got started, but that's a different story.

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