Supreme Court Actually Interested In Patent-Related Injunctions

from the surprised-me dept

eBay has been in a long struggle with a company called MercExchange, the history of which we've gone over before. Basically, this company MercExchange managed to patent the concept of online auctions as well as the concept of offering a fixed price "buy it now" option. They sued eBay and won. While the online auction patent was later tossed out, the "buy it now" patent has stood (though, many of the patents involved are in the middle of the long and convoluted process for the Patent Office to review). Still, the court ordered an injunction against eBay on the other parts, basically barring them from offering the "buy it now" functionality. That injunction was stayed, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court -- which we thought the Supreme Court wouldn't be interested in. Consider us wrong. The Supreme Court will hear the case, though the focus of the case is likely to be about the legality of these patent-related injunctions, rather than the specifics of this particular patent. This could actually be a big deal -- as putting injunctions on companies accused of violating patents often act as a de facto means of forcing companies to pay out licensing fees just to avoid the risk of an injunction that would completely shut down their business.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Bernie, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 12:22pm

    Buy It Now button

    That's just silly. There's no major engineering involved in a buy it now operation. You might as well be charging royalties for every time some utters the word "Beatles."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Michael, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Buy It Now button

    Hey! That's 20 quid!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Buy It Now button

    Wouldn't the people who have the "buy it now button" patent have to pay to the "button" patent holder? It seems to follow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    kingmanor, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 5:11am

    Government Blackberry usage

    I think the reason SCOTUS picked up this case is because its the same central issue as the Blackberry patent case. A few weeks ago the US Gov't tried to get an exemption to any injunction that would stop Blackberry use. Now I think its fair to assume that being a member of the SCOTUS entitles you to a Blackberry. If they don't then their staff certainly does and so does their friends in high places elsewhere in the gov't. And they do not want it to be stopped because a holding company thinks $450 million isn't enough for sitting on their ass and doing nothing. I could be totally wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    dude, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 6:55am

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    $450 mil was certainly enough a few months ago.
    $23 mil was enough 3 years ago after jury trial, and probably $5 mil was more than enough had they decided not to ignore NTP's letters of infringement but to sign up for a license.
    Stupidity and total disrespect for US Patent Law turns out to be very expensive at the end...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 9:40am

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    If you pay me now for protection I won't burn down your business. Oh you didn't pay, now it's double. Still didn't pay? It's now 10x to stop the fire.

    I'm proud to have immense disrespect for this kind of behavior. You can spin it any way you want, call it "Intelectial Freedom of Property Freedom and Patent Law of Freedom" for all I care. A rose is still a rose.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 29th, 2005 @ 10:16am

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    Stupidity and total disrespect for US Patent Law turns out to be very expensive at the end...

    That's both harsh and wrong. RIM felt that the patents were invalid -- which is their right. Your response basically says that any kind of patent extortion is fine, and everyone should just pay up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    dude, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 10:45am

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    Hey, Mike,
    You might think that some store owners overcharge you for some goodies, so you just do some shoplifting...
    or you might feel that your property taxes are way too high (which they are, by the way) so you refuse to pay them in full..
    But then, don't complain when you get arrested for shoplifting or get evicted from your own house. That's life in a capitalistic society, dude, just grow up and stop bitching...
    Nobody can just *assume* that some duly issued patents are invalid and start *willfully* implement patented technology just because somebody thinks so...

    Read more about this case. The judge made a comment that RIM could not present much defense agains accusations of clear and *willful* patent infringement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    dude, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 10:55am

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    It's called charging interest and service fees on past due balance - a normal business practice in US.
    In this case, it obviously included some huge legal fees of contingency legal firms and moral compensation too. Quite costly indeed...
    Better to pay up sooner than later...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 29th, 2005 @ 11:08am

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    Um. If you can't tell the difference between (1) shoplifting or tax evasion and (2) using the legal system to contest patents that you believe are invalid, then there's not much more I can say in this discussion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    dude, Nov 29th, 2005 @ 11:50am

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    Mike, don't play fool...
    RIM didn't use legal system to contest patents in question, they just silently implemented patented technology in their commercial products and hoped they would never get caught...
    For contesting a validity of a patent an ex-parte re-examination request can be filed with the USPTO by any third party.
    Large companies don't like to request it themselves, so they use some smaller affiliates or partners or whoever...

    To my knowledge, nobody did it before RIM got caught...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 29th, 2005 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Government Blackberry usage

    "got caught"? Got caught what? Actually innovating and bringing a product to market? How dare they!

    There's no reason to contest a random patent unless someone sues you over it. RIM did that once they were sued. That's a perfectly reasonable process.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This