Case Study: Ebay

eBay is The World’s Online Marketplace™. Founded in 1995, eBay created a powerful platform for the sale of goods and services by a passionate community of individuals and businesses.

On any given day, there are millions of items across thousands of categories for sale on eBay, as well as on, eBay’s site dedicated to fixed price trading.

eBay enables trade on a local, national and international basis with customized sites in markets around the world. [Source: eBay]

Things to read:

Questions to consider:

  • eBay is one of the only major Internet “pure plays” to consistently make a profit from its inception. What is eBay’s business model? Why has it been so successful?
  • Other major web sites, like and Yahoo!, have entered the auction marketplace with far less success than eBay. How has eBay been able to maintain its dominant position?
  • What method does eBay use to reduce the potential for fraud among traders on its site? What kinds of fraud, if any, are eBay users most susceptible?
  • eBay makes every effort to conceptualize its users as a community (as opposed to, say “customers” or “clients”). What is the purpose of this conceptual twist and does eBay gain something by doing it?
  • eBay has long been a marketplace for used goods and collectibles. Today, it is increasingly a place where major businesses come to auction their wares. Why would a brand name vendor set-up shop on eBay?

Intellectual Property

Selected trademark applications and registrations:

  • EBAY ®;
  • Search real-time for U.S. trademarks.

Selected patents:

  • 6,415,320 — Information presentation and management in an online trading environment;
  • 6,058,417 — Information presentation and management in an online trading environment;
  • Search real-time for new U.S. patents granted to eBay.