Just two weeks after a court ruling suggested that eBay was violating business model patents for online auctions and buying direct, the Patent Office has come out with an initial ruling invalidating one of the patents noting that it's an obvious idea. Of course, the patent review process is a long one, and the company, MercExchange, who owns the patent still gets a chance to respond. They also point to the recent court ruling, which seems like circular logic. The court said the patent should be considered, and the USPTO is saying the patent isn't valid. That should be the end of the equation, but MercExchange seems to think that the court trumps the Patent Office. Either way, there's a lot of money being spent on this mess -- and, if anything, this process reveals how ridiculous the system is. If the patent is invalid, why did it need to go through so many lawsuits and patent reviews to figure that out?
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