A US federal judge has ruled that eBay, the leading internet
auction site, can prevent a rival company from conducting automated
searches of eBay’s inventory to list items on its own web site.30 May 2000
Bidder’s Edge was found guilty of trespassing on eBay’s computer system. A preliminary injunction was issued by US District Judge Ronald Whyte, barring Bidder’s Edge from using an automated program to search eBay’s database without permission.
Judge Whyte said the type of searches carried out by Bidder’s Edge, which perform thousands of instructions per minute, block out part of a computer system’s capacity and potentially slow its overall processing. Whyte ruled that to allow such searches by one company would encourage others, causing “reduced system performance, system unavailability, or data losses.”
The US Department of Justice is currently investigating whether eBay is violating antitrust law by trying to stop smaller companies, including Bidder’s Edge, from listing on their own sites items being auctioned by eBay customers.
Bidder’s edge reportedly accessed eBay’s site up to 100,000 times per day over a 10 month period, accounting for 1.1% of eBay’s total data transmissions. EBay items made up 69% of the items in the Bidder’s Edge database.