Please note: Gerben IP does not represent eBay Trademarks. This page is provided for informational purposes and reflects information available in public USPTO records.
May 18, 2022
eBay started as a pet project for its founder Pierre Omidyar back in 1995. Little did he know that he had built what would effectively become a massive global online auction and trading company.
eBay was among the first companies to market the internet as a place where you could buy and sell goods and services. The online platform matched buyers and sellers, with the buyers bidding on the goods to purchase them.
Today, eBay, headquartered in San Jose, California, is a worldwide leader in e-commerce. Here’s a bit of its history, profile, and registered trademarks.
eBay Company History
On September 3, 1995, Pierre Omidyar launched AuctionWeb, a platform to auction products online as part of his larger personal website. Pierre, a French-born Iranian-American computer programmer, was living in California at the time.
The first item ever sold on AuctionWeb was a laser pointer owned by Omidyar, which was broken. The broken item sold for $14.83 and Omidyar was so stunned by the purchase that he phoned the buyer to ask if he understood that the laser pointer he’d just purchased was broken.
The buyer responded with a yes, “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.”
AuctionWeb would soon became the first online auction site to allow person-to-person transactions and its popularity boomed.
AuctionWeb turned from a hobby for Omidyar into a business after his internet service provider alerted him that he would need to upgrade to a business package, due to the high website traffic he was getting. The increase in charges, from $30 to $250, prompted him to charge AuctionWeb users for transactions.
The users never objected. Chris Agarpao was employed as AuctionWeb’s first employee and was in charge of processing mailed check payments.
In early 1996, AuctionWeb hired Jeffrey Skoll, as the company’s first president. By November 1996, AuctionWeb made its first third-party licensing deal. The licensing agreement was with Electronic Travel Auction, for the use of SmarkMarket Technology to sell plane tickets and other travel products.
This move marked the first exponential growth for AuctionWeb, with auctions soaring from 250,000 in 1996 to 200,000 in January 1997 alone.
AuctionWeb was officially renamed eBay in September 1997. The company obtained a federal trademark registration of “eBay” on January 19, 1999.
eBay was coined after Echo Bay Technology Group, a consulting firm owned by Omidyar.
1997 also saw the company obtain its first venture capital funding from Benchmark Capital, worth $6.7 million.
Meg Whitman became eBay’s CEO and president in March 1998, after being hired by the board. At the time, eBay had over half a million users, 30 employees, and a revenue of about $4.7 million.
A few months later, in September of 1998, eBay went public, making Omidyar and Skoll instant billionaires. The shares were supposed to start trading at $18 each, however, the stock price skyrocketed to $53.50 on the first trading day.
eBay’s growth and move to becoming a publicly listed company were driven by the need to diversify its product range. At the time, 10% of all of the company’s sales were from the auctions of Beanie Babies toys, which were manufactured by Ty. Inc.
The company’s most significant efforts were channeled towards expanding its product categories beyond collectibles into any sellable item. These efforts paid off, with the company growing exponentially. By 2000, eBay had 12 million registered users and an online inventory of more than 4.5 million items for sale daily. By 2001, eBay had the largest userbase for any eCommerce site.
eBay acquired iBazar, a similar auction website founded in Europe in 1998, then bought PayPal after a bitter duel on October 3rd, 2002. The company also bought Skype in 2005 before selling it to Microsoft for $8.5 billion in May 2011.
Growth for the company has been steady ever since 2008, which marked its full global expansion with hundreds of millions of users and revenue amounting to $7.7 billion.
Former Subsidiaries and Investments
eBay has a massive portfolio of former subsidiaries and investments. These include:
After acquiring the company on October 3, 2002, eBay set up PayPal as the preferred mode for transactions within the platform. However, the company was spun off as an independent entity on July 20, 2015.
In the summer of 2004, eBay acquired a 25% equity in Craigslist, a classified listing website. However, the merger was not smooth, with both companies later suing each other over “unfair business practices” and “harm to fair competition.”
Notable eBay Trademarks
eBay has a list of forty trademarks in its portfolio. Some of them include “BUY IT NOW,” “POWER SELLERS,” “ADCHOICE,” “EZ NICHE,” “FUZZY DUCK,” “FAST ‘N FREE,” and “WHERE AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESSES LIVE.”
eBay obtained a federal trademark registration for “WHERE AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESSES LIVE” on June 15th, 2021, and it’s one of their most recent filings. The company uses this trademark for its online trading services.
eBay also obtained federal trademark registration for “FAST ‘N FREE” on November 25th, 2014. The company uses the trademark for its freight management services.
Please note: While we make every effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up-to-date, we cannot be held responsible for its accuracy or completeness. If you have any questions regarding a specific entity in Gerben's Trademark Library®, please contact us and we will work with you to provide the information you need.