Our response [cl.de.response] in DE.
Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category
Navigational searches on Yahoo for “www.craigslist.org” or “craigslist.org” have been bringing up eBay textads featuring hyperlinked craigslist URLs, designed to confuse and misdirect users seeking craigslist onto eBay sites. Here is a link to a screen shot of one such search taken this morning, and an image of the text ad itself:
We’ve tried to give eBay the benefit of doubt, but it’s hard to reconcile deceptive, trademark-infringing ads calculated to harm craigslist and its users with statements like this one from eBay yesterday:
“eBay has, and will continue to be, a minority shareholder who believes in Craigslist, shares its values and acts with openness, honesty and integrity in its dealings with Craigslist’s board and the online community.
In fact, these ads suggest that they do not share our values at all, and that they are being anything but open and honest with the online community
UPDATE – Looks like these ads have been withdrawn! Ceasing unlawful behavior out of fear of legal consequences falls short of “openness, honesty, and integrity”, but it’s a step in the right direction.
We filed a complaint in California today, charging eBay with unlawful and unfair competition, misappropriation of proprietary information, deceptive passing-off, business interference, false advertising, phishing attacks, free-riding, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and breaches of fiduciary duty.
We respectfully ask the Superior Court in San Francisco to enjoin this conduct and order eBay to (1) make full restitution to craigslist, (2) disgorge their related profits (3) restore to craigslist all shares of the company acquired by means of, or for the purpose of unfair competition, and (4) pay punitive damages for their malicious behavior.
Full text of complaint is available in PDF.
The public version of Ebay’s claims is now available.
We will file our formal response in the next few weeks, and until then will do our best to abide by protocol in not responding to specific assertions made in Ebay’s complaint.
As those who know us best will recognize, every measure we have taken has been for the sake of protecting the long term well-being of the craigslist community.
Sadly, we have an uncomfortably conflicted shareholder in our midst, one that is obsessed with dominating online classifieds for the purpose of maximizing its own profits.
It’s a conflict of interest worth keeping in mind if you decide to give this filing a read.
We really appreciate the outpouring of encouragement we have received in the last few days from craigslist users, from Ebay users, and from the general public.
Especially touching have been the messages of support from Ebay employees, one of which I’ll share here:
As an engineer at ebay, all I could think when I saw the news was, “Surely, there’s another place to work.” Frankly, I doubt that CL is always right about everything, but for eBay to sue CL is off the charts stupid. eBay had no business grabbing that 25% in the first place. It’s a shame, because my co-workers are really nice, sweet people. But it’s as if I am working for ********* or something. I feel dirty. I’ll be updating my resume this weekend.
For anyone interested in recent press coverage, here is an MSNBC articlefrom earlier today.
Ebay has filed suit against craigslist and its board of directors:
We are surprised and disappointed by Ebay’s unfounded allegations, which came to us out of the blue, without any attempt to engage in a dialogue with us.
Coming from a shareholder that views craigslist as a prime competitor, filing suit without so much as mentioning these assertions beforehand seems unethical, and hints at ulterior motives.
Ensuring the future well-being of craigslist and the craigslist community is admittedly very important to us. But Ebay has absolutely no reason to feel threatened here — unless of course they’re contemplating a hostile takeover of craigslist, or the sale of Ebay’s stake in craigslist to an unfriendly party. (In which case, they’re out of luck.
For our part, we have always treated Ebay very fairly as a minority shareholder, and plan to continue doing so, despite this unfortunate development.
Addendum in response to commenter question - To be perfectly clear, Ebay’s stake in craigslist has not been “unfairly diluted” as they have claimed.
I’m getting some well-deserved flak for a ham-handed cease-and-desist email I sent to a blogger recently. The dialogue had remained cordial until he revealed his business model – running deceptive textads such as the ones below, which got on my nerves:
He pulled the ads before sharing his story (and my emails) with the press, but not before we’d taken some screenshots. When it comes to following up with Ebay, Livedeal, TableForSix, I should probably leave the C&Ds to the professionals.
But there was no need for me to act like a jerk, provoked or not.
The Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, recently denounced craigslist to members of the media, for what he alleged were shortcomings in the “erotic services” section of craigslist for areas of Connecticut.
We welcome feedback from any and all interested parties as to how we can improve, but craigslist will not be used as a punching bag for false and defamatory statements.
Connecticut craigslist users are no doubt curious as to why their AG is spending time attacking freedom of speech and law-abiding companies that provide much-needed free services to the people of Connecticut, when there is so much actual crime left unaddressed. We don’t have the answer, but would be interested to know what it is.