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eBay inks deal with auction search site

The online auction firm signs a licensing deal with search service AuctionRover.com, a move that ups the ante in the war between eBay and AuctionWatch.

Auction leader eBay today said it has signed a licensing deal with search service AuctionRover.com, a move that ups the ante in the war between eBay and AuctionWatch.

Through the deal, eBay will allow Morrisville, N.C.-based AuctionRover to cull from its auction listings and supply users with up-to-date results--a process that eBay forbids other search services to do.

The licensing deal is the first of its kind for eBay. However, it's similar to agreements the company has proposed with other search aggregators including AuctionWatch, according to eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal comes as the feud between eBay and search service AuctionWatch heats up. Last month, the leading online auctioneer said it would block AuctionWatch's access to eBay. eBay programs its servers to ignore requests for information received from Internet protocol (IP) addresses used by AuctionWatch.

The San Jose, Calif.-based eBay previously voiced numerous objections to AuctionWatch, among other search sites. eBay contends that the technology slows bidding and selling on its site, often provides incomplete and inaccurate information, and violates its intellectual property.

Today's deal with eBay could give AuctionRover a leg up over its competitors.

"Other auction resources may claim to be comprehensive, but how comprehensive are you if you don't work with the largest auction site out there?" Scot Wingo, chief executive of AuctionRover, said in a statement.

But AuctionWatch chief executive Rodrigo Sales says this deal may put AuctionRover in a bad position in the long term. Through the licensing deal--which AuctionWatch turned down last month--AuctionRover must display eBay listings on a unique page with eBay's logo at the top, inhibiting users from viewing comprehensive listings from all the auction sites in one page, Sales said.

As a result, users have to toggle between eBay's page and the other listings to find the best deal, ultimately impeding comparison shopping, he said.

"This kind of layout is not in the best interest of the user," Sales said.

By licensing eBay's content, AuctionRover pays for information that shouldn't necessarily be sold, Sales contends.

"It comes down to a fundamental intellectual property issue. With walls [such as eBay's] going up, the tremendous benefit of the Internet--access to information--is lost," he said.

eBay's director of business development, Richard Rock, said, "The agreement with AuctionRover establishes a reasonable licensing arrangement that will benefit AuctionRover, eBay and most importantly, the eBay community."

AuctionRover, founded in July, lets bidders search more than 850 online auction sites. The company is backed by Draper Atlantic, the East Coast arm of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and by Internet.com.