eBay and Database Protection

By David Baron
2000 | Case No. P33 | Length 11 pgs.
In 2000, eBay was faced with the challenge of protecting important strategic assets its database and the community it had developed - while allowing information to flow freely on the Internet. eBay’s information assets were invaluable to the company for the design of auctions and for identifying service enhancements and other business opportunities, including partnering with other service providers. The popularity of online auctions pioneered by eBay, Inc. however, had led to numerous rival Internet auction sites as well as a group of auction aggregators,” whose use of eBay’s information threatened the value of the company’s strategic assets. Companies such as Bidder’s Edge, AuctionRover.com, and ultimatebid.com searched Internet auction sites, extracted data, and provided it to their users. Bidder’s Edge, for example, provided information on auctions in a variety of categories corresponding to those on eBay’s front page. A person searching for an ancient coin on Bidder’s Edge received information on coins available on eBay, Yahoo!, and Amazon.com . Although this provided comparative information and convenience to users, it was based on information developed by eBay and extracted from its site. This case describes eBay, auction aggregators, database protection, intellectual property law and databases, proposed legislation and the coalitions supporting the “Collections of Information Antipiracy Act” and the “Consumer and Investor Access to Information Act”, and legislation in the European Union.
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