eBay's Business Model Patent Mess Returns

from the online-auction-patent-is-baaaaaaaack dept

In 2002, someone who claimed he came up with the idea for online auctions and patented it before eBay existed sued the company for patent infringement. As we pointed out at the time, this was exactly what patents were not supposed to do. Here’s a case where different people came up with similar ideas. One actually did something with it and built a real company, while the other didn’t do anything with it at all, other than run to the patent office. Yet, the company that did something gets sued. That discourages companies from actually innovating. The companies that really do something open themselves up to lawsuits. While a court later tossed out the online auction patent for being too vague, they did award the guy nearly $30 million for his patent on “direct buying” online (yes, he actually patented that). Both sides appealed, and the court has found that, not only did eBay violate the direct buy patent, but it’s bringing back the online auction patent as well, saying a lower court needs to check that out again.

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Comments on “eBay's Business Model Patent Mess Returns”

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knight37 (user link) says:


This is absolutely absurd. How can you patent the idea of auctioning stuff online? That’s just taking an existing idea – auctioning, which isn’t patentable, and translating it to the internet. That’s like amazon having a patent for selling books online or something. The whole patent law thing is a complete foobar. I can’t believe we’re letting this crap happen. Who pays for this in the end? That’s right, the consumer. What will Ebay do if they are forced to pay this idiot? Just raise the price of their online auctions.

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