Bidder's Edge Inc., a content aggregator that was legally prevented from running spiders, crawlers or any automated tool to search auctions on eBay.com, has created a separate window to allow users to perform individual searches on the online auctions site.
The creation of the separate search function on Bidder's Edge's home page at www.biddersedge.com comes in the wake of a refusal on June 2 by Judge Ronald Whyte of the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of California to stay his injunction against Bidder's Edge.
“They're doing real-time searches and that's what we wanted from the very beginning,” said Kevin Pursglove, spokesman at eBay, San Jose, CA. “And that's what we said from the very beginning. That's one of the issues we talked about with other companies where we had licensing agreements.”
eBay has licensing agreements with four auction aggregators: AuctionRover.com, iTrack.com, Priceradar.com and Auctionworks.com. Each site features eBay searches separately from other rival auction services on its home page — an arrangement that Bidder's Edge found meddling.
Now, Bidder's Edge has little choice but to treat eBay — which, by some estimates, accounts for anywhere from 88 percent to 95 percent of all Internet auctions — different from Yahoo Auctions and Amazon Auctions.
While visitors to the Bidder's Edge Web site can type a keyword or phrase in the search box to pull up a plethora of auction listings from 170 sites, they are required to click on a link that says, “Try this search on eBay” in order to do an eBay search.
James Carney, CEO of Bidder's Edge, Burlington, MA, said the response to the new arrangement from Bidder's Edge users was negative.
“Because it's lousy from the end user's point,” Carney said. “We've got 1,500 e-mails and a huge chunk of the people said that eBay is making an issue out of this, that this is ridiculous [and] it defeats the purpose of a search engine.”
eBay, on its part, has no intention to drop its lawsuit against Bidder's Edge.
“Our problem with Bidder's Edge was the fact that we felt they were trespassing onto our site and that they were using robots to engage in trespassing and they were copying the database of eBay,” Pursglove said. “The judge made very clear, no more roboting, no more copying. They were forced to this action by the injunction.”