Tech Industry

Bidder's Edge changes eBay search after injunction

Responding to a court-ordered injunction, the company modifies an automated search system that was searching eBay's site for auction information.

Responding to a court-ordered injunction, Bidder's Edge has modified its search of eBay.

Instead of listing eBay's auctions alongside those of Amazon.com, Yahoo and other auction sites, Bidder's Edge now sends eBay customers directly to eBay's own search engine.

The response comes about two weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte granted an injunction in eBay's case against Burlington, Mass.-based Bidder's Edge. The judge ruled that Bidder's Edge's previous search system had the potential to slow eBay's service and that eBay had a good chance to win the case based on its trespass claim.

Bidder's Edge's move is only the latest development in a dispute that dates back to last September when eBay asked a number of auction portals to cut off their searches of its listings.

When AuctionWatch and then Bidder's Edge refused, eBay responded with technical and legal measures, blocking AuctionWatch's search and suing Bidder's Edge.

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay has argued that such unauthorized searches illegally trespass on its site, violate its copyright and trademarks and slow its service for eBay users. eBay has authorized auction portals such as GoTo Auctions--formerly AuctionRover.com--to search its listings, but has stipulated that such sites separate its listings from those of other auction sites.

Bidder's Edge modified its eBay search on Saturday, said Kimbo Mundy, the company's co-founder and vice president of engineering. Mundy said the new search system, which begins the eBay search in a new browser window, is better than those offered by Bidder's Edge's competitors, but is "not ideal."

"We think this is best we can do in light of the court order," Mundy said.

Bidder's Edge has appealed the injunction to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Jay Monahan, eBay's senior intellectual property attorney, said the company was trying to find out from Bidder's Edge the technical details of its new search to find out whether it complies with the court's order. Whyte ordered that Bidder's Edge could not use an automatic search service or search "robot" to comb eBay's listings.

"We've asked them to explain to us the technical details of what they are doing, and they have not done so to date," Monahan said. "Until they tell us exactly what they are doing, it's a little difficult to comment."