NEW YORK (CNNfn) - eBay, the world's largest online auction site, won a round in court in its effort to prevent its auction listings from being copied by other Web sites without its permission.|
eBay had sued Bidder's Edge to block that company from copying the millions of auction listings eBay has in its database. Bidders's Edge, based in Burlington, Mass., aggregates information from eBay, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, uBid, and other auction sites, allowing its users to simultaneously search for an item on several different auction sites.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte said that he would issue a preliminary injunction against Bidder's Edge on the grounds of trespass and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The judge hasn't yet issued the injunction itself or a final ruling in the case.
Intellectual property attorneys have been watching the dispute between eBay (EBAY: Research, Estimates) and Bidder's Edge closely, since its outcome could have implications for Web portals, such as Yahoo!, and other aggregators of Web content.
eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said that Bidder's Edge was transferring auction information into its database that could be "inaccurate, incomplete, and not up-to-date." If a person selling an item on eBay revised information about the item, that update sometimes wouldn't be reflected on the Bidder's Edge site, Pursglove said.
"Our suit is based on the premise that a business has the right to set the terms of access to its business," the eBay spokesman said.
Nick Godfrey, director of marketing at Bidder's Edge, countered that the preliminary injunction will harm consumers and the free flow of information over the Web.
"We firmly believe in the position we have here based on the premise of the openness of the Web," Godfrey said. He also noted that Bidder's Edge drives a large amount of traffic to individual auction sites, including eBay, and that sellers benefit from having their item listed on as many sites as possible.
eBay has signed licensing agreements with four other Web companies allowing those Web sites to duplicate eBay's listings, provided that those sites copy them in a manner that is accurate and up-to-date. Godfrey said that Bidder's Edge hasn't entered into that type of agreement with eBay, because "the parameters eBay has set up don't enhance the experience for the buyer."
Bidder's Edge lists about six million items on its site each day, about four million of which come from eBay. Bidder's Edge makes money from the advertising carried on its site, while eBay makes money by charging listing fees and commissions on items sold over its site.