Online retailer eBay filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against its competitor Amazon, accusing the Seattle-based giant of using eBay's own messaging system to steal sellers.
In order to avoid detection, Amazon representatives allegedly spelled out their email addresses and asked eBay sellers to talk on the phone.
eBay described Amazon's scheme as an "orchestrated, coordinated, worldwide campaign" to "illegally lure eBay sellers". It said that three accounts created by one person, for instance, sent out 120 messages to sellers without conducting any kind of business on the website. The lawsuit alleges that dozens of Amazon sales representatives in the USA and overseas were involved in an effort to recruit high-value eBay sellers to Amazon, the Journal reported. The company has said it was investigating EBay's allegations, which came to light this month after the internet marketplace's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Amazon.
The lawsuit, filed in Santa Clara County in California, accuses Amazon of having "perpetrated a scheme to infiltrate and exploit eBay's internal member email system" over the past few years.
Ebay says it wants to stop Amazon misusing its messaging platform and to pay it an unspecified sum.
Both Amazon and eBay rely on third-party sellers and their commissions.
Amazon overall is estimated to account for about half of retail dollars spent online in the US. Last year, Amazon also offered discounts on items sold by third-party sellers and reimbursed independent merchants the amounts it cost them.