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eBay sues Amazon over alleged poaching of sellers

The complaint alleges the effort has been traced to Amazon headquarters.

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eBay has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing its e-commerce rival of illegally poaching sellers on its marketplace.

eBay's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in California's Santa Clara County, accuses Amazon of having "perpetrated a scheme to infiltrate and exploit eBay's internal member email system" over the past few years, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The lawsuit alleges that dozens of Amazon sales representatives in the US and abroad were involved in an effort to recruit high-value eBay sellers to Amazon, the Journal reported.

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.

Both Amazon and eBay allow third-party sellers to list and sell items on their sites. These sellers are critical to both businesses, since the companies make billions of dollars in commissions on these sales. Amazon says third-party sellers account for more than half of its retail sales, while outside sellers account for all of eBay's retail sales.

"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 in its lawsuit.

eBay said in its complaint it has evidence "that Amazon coordinated this scheme from its headquarters," tracing similar or identical messages to sellers to Amazon internet protocol addresses, the Journal reported.

eBay and Amazon representatives declined to comment.

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