SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have launched a criminal probe into whether eBay Inc employees misappropriated confidential information from classified ad service Craigslist, according to a copy of a grand jury subpoena obtained by Reuters.

The two companies have been feuding for years in civil court over allegations that online giant eBay used its Craigslist board seat to glean confidential information about the classified ad business as eBay prepared to launch a rival service.

An eBay representative could not immediately comment on Tuesday.

The subpoena, issued by a federal grand jury in San Jose, Calif. last week on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department, seeks an array of information and documents, including those pertaining to eBay Chairman Pierre Omidyar.

"In February 2005, Pierre Omidyar requested information about Craigslist's approach to adding new cities as well as advance notice of plans to launch in new cities," the subpoena alleged.

It was not clear on Tuesday how many companies or individuals have received subpoenas. Northern California U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag declined to comment on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage, Dan Levine and Alistair Barr; editing by Andre Grenon)


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