SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge dismissed a potential class action
claiming that eBay interferes with sellers by manipulating the bidding process through automatic bidding.
Marshall Block sued eBay in Jan. 2012 over the company's automatic bidding function. Block claimed that eBay "intermeddles" with buyer-seller relationships by increasing buyer bids by proxy, hiding bid maximums and shortchanging sellers. The man alleged that because a winning bidder only pays the final auction price and not the maximum bid-the highest price a buyer is willing to pay-he and other sellers lose out on earning potential.
eBay moved for dismissal, calling Block's suit "the distorted result of his fundamental misunderstanding of both eBay's user agreement and its automatic bidding system" according to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer's ruling.
Breyer agreed: "When read in context, it is clear that eBay has not made a binding promise to avoid involvement in user transactions. Neither is eBay bound by the [user] agreement's disclaimer against establishing agencies or partnerships.
"In short, the statements on which this entire lawsuit turns are not 'worded consistently with its being intended to be enforceable,'" Breyer wrote, citing Workman v. United Parcel Service Inc.
"Lacking such language, the court rejects Block's interpretation of the agreement and grants the motion to dismiss the breach of contract cause of action with prejudice," Breyer continued.
The judge also rejected Block's claims of unfair competition, accepting eBay's arguments that Block had not sufficiently pled any of the claims. He also dismissed the claim of unjust enrichment, which Block amended as restitution.
"Whatever he calls it, count four is not a cause of action," Breyer concluded, writing that unjust enrichment-restitution-is instead a remedy.
Block has 30 days to amend his complaint and address the causes of action not dismissed with prejudice.