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Priceline Eyes Consumer Auctions

"Name-your-price" retailer Priceline.com Inc. Friday hinted it may branch out to add to consumer auctions in a move that will create another competitor to market leader eBay Inc.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Priceline said it might extend its patented business model to consumer-to-consumer transactions.

If the company follows through with those plans, it will make the second time this year a market leader has targeted online auction giant eBay. Earlier this year, Amazon.com Inc. added auctions to its lineup of books, videos and music.

Priceline.com would not comment on the report since it's in a quiet period before a secondary offering.

While competition in the online auction market is growing, the sector is expected to continue its feverish pace. The latest estimates from market researcher Forrester Research predict the online auction market will grow from $2.3 billion this year to $6.4 billion by 2003.

In the filing, Priceline said it wouldn't get into the auction business directly. Instead, it will license its brand and patented business concepts to a two new companies. However, Priceline hinted it might take a stake in them.