|Thu Mar 4 2010 18:15:14|
eBay Triumphs in Antitrust Lawsuit - Wins Summary Judgment
By: Ina Steiner
Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted eBay's motion for summary judgment, dismissing a lawsuit filed by several eBay users alleging anti-competitive activity by eBay and PayPal.
Michael Malone filed a lawsuit in April 2007 alleging that eBay "utilizes its nationwide monopoly of the on-line auction market to monopolize the available forms of payment that sellers can use on eBay." A second class-action complaint was filed by Ann Farmer and Todd Van Pelt on April 23, 2007, and the two lawsuits were consolidated.
eBay pointed to evidence in the record "that the named Plaintiffs as well as other eBay buyers and sellers substitute regularly among online auctions and other sales platforms and that its online auction format is priced competitively both with its own fixed-price platform and with Amazon, its fixed-price competitor."
eBay also argued:
"While conceding that the online auction format may be unique, eBay disagrees strongly that the format represents a separate market for antitrust purposes. It argues that market definition is controlled by "commercial realities," as demonstrated by consumer behavior, and it cites unambiguous evidence in the record - particularly the testimony of the Named Plaintiffs that the relevant market for eBay sellers includes alternatives to the online format."
According to the judge's order, to survive summary judgment on the issue of causal antitrust injury, Plaintiffs must "offer some evidence demonstrating the existence of an antitrust injury, which is to say injury of the type the antitrust laws were intended to prevent and that flows from that which makes defendant's acts unlawful."
eBay claimed that Plaintiffs failed to present any such evidence. Plaintiffs (eBay sellers) alleged that they suffered antitrust injury through eBay's charging of "supracompetitive" fees for its online auction platform.
eBay's counsel, however, said it was "the essence of an overcharge case."
And eBay used the evidence of one of the plaintiffs to make their argument that auction sellers are sensitive to changes in price (ouch!):
"eBay also relies on the deposition testimony of Ann Farmer, one of the Named Plaintiffs, who testified that price increases for auction listings induced her to choose the fixed-price format instead."
Basically the judge said lawyers for the sellers did not provide him with enough evidence to deny eBay's motion for summary judgment. You can find the full document on the AuctionBytes website.