(CN) – Two e-commerce titans will square off in a Silicon Valley courtroom, with eBay accusing Amazon of illegally poaching its sellers using an internal messaging service.
“Over the past several years, Amazon has perpetrated a scheme to infiltrate and exploit eBay’s internal member email system,” eBay said in the 18-page complaint filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court. “Amazon did this to recruit high-value eBay sellers to Amazon.”
EBay claims Amazon sales representatives have been running the scheme since 2015 and demonstrated an awareness of their wrongdoing by steadily attempting to avoid detection.
The internet auction site offers its customers an internal email system it calls M2M, allowing buyers and sellers to communicate without divulging their personal information.
Users cannot solicit sellers to move their business elsewhere or provide contact information such as phone numbers or email addresses.
In violation of these terms of services, eBay claims, Amazon sales representatives open eBay accounts for the sole purpose of contacting sellers and recruiting them to hawk their wares on Amazon.
“In furtherance of Amazon’s scheme, its representatives opened eBay accounts with no intent of ever using them to conduct legitimate business on eBay’s platform,” eBay says in its complaint. “One Seattle-based Amazon representative opened three accounts in the course of a few weeks, sending solicitation emails to eBay sellers within minutes of opening each separate account.”
EBay claims the Amazon representatives attempted to move conversations from the M2M service immediately and used different formats for email addresses and phone numbers to avoid detection by eBay.
According to eBay, one of its sellers provided evidence of Amazon’s scheme a few months ago – prompting eBay to send a cease-and-desist letter and demand for additional information from Amazon. Amazon did not respond, leading to eBay’s lawsuit on Wednesday.
An Amazon representative declined to comment on the lawsuit.
EBay seeks a court order barring Amazon from using its M2M services, as well as damages.
The company is represented by John Grabel of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Sullivan in Los Angeles.