The owners of the leading Web-auction site, eBay, are objecting to Apple's forthcoming Sherlock II search engine, which is an integral part of Mac OS 9 (due by the end of October).

Sherlock II lets shoppers search across auction sites to detect the best bargains – but, according to reports, eBay may try to force Apple to disconnect the service before it's even started.

Sherlock II is the number-one new feature in Apple's reworked Mac OS 9 (see "OS 9 set to hit UK" ). The new version of Sherlock searches for items across the majority of the Web's major e-commerce and auction Web sites, including eBay, MSN and Amazon. Sherlock II can sort results by price and availability, and inform shoppers about the time remaining on particular auctions.

eBay is actively pursuing similar meta-search services - such as AuctionWatch - that nose into their auctions.

"We're not at all happy that someone is coming in and profiting off of all the hard work we put into this venture," said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove.

"We're contacting them [Apple] right now to try to get an idea of what their search proposal will involve," he told Wired News (http://www.wired.com/news).

"It will be interesting to see what eBay's response is to a much larger company like Apple getting involved in this, compared to smaller companies like ours," said AuctionWatch's CEO, Rodrigo Sales.