Latest Chapter Of MercExchange/eBay Lawsuit: eBay Told To Pay $30 Million

from the ain't-over-yet dept

While you may recall the Supreme Court's decision in the MercExchange/eBay case from a year and a half ago, that was really just over one technical point at issue in the case: should a judge automatically issue an injunction to stop the sale of a product if that product is found to be infringing. Thankfully, the Supreme Court recognized that injunctions don't always make sense. However, once that was decided, the rest of the case still had to proceed. Based on the Supreme Court ruling, it was no surprise earlier this summer that the judge denied an injunction against eBay, but this week he did approve a $30 million judgment against the company -- representing the $25 million earlier award, plus another $5 million in interest.

The case isn't over yet, though. eBay has vowed to appeal the ruling. While the Supreme Court ruling on injunctions was an important one in preventing some of the worst abuses of the patent system, this case is still something of a travesty. MercExchange had claimed patents over all different aspects of online auctions, and while some of those patents were tossed out of the case, eBay was still found to infringe for daring to offer a "buy it now" feature on an auction. What no one has yet been able to explain is how the idea of a "buy it now" option on an auction should ever be patentable. It's simply a feature and a natural offering for any auction site to include at some point or another. It wasn't some brilliant idea that deserves a huge monopoly preventing all others from offering such a simple feature. Yet, tragically, with the way our patent system works, that's what has happened.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 5:49pm


    EBay should patent a "Bite Me Now" response to such silliness.

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

  2. identicon
    Bartman, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 5:52pm

    the way our patent system works


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

  3. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 5:56pm

    I plan to patent

    by me now!

    A way of authoring information and mundane knowledge that others already know but that I state.

    by me now!(tm)

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

  4. identicon
    Adimax, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 7:04pm

    Yeah, hopefully with a $30 million dollar price tag for ending up the loser in this, eBay will fight this forever. Thats absurd to patent.

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

  5. identicon
    Max Powers, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 8:48pm

    So Stupid

    "Buy it now" printed in a little box that takes you straight to the product is the stupidest thing to patent I have ever heard of, though I'm sure there are many more.

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

  6. identicon
    Grady, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 9:17pm

    Hmmm, isn't $30 million a bit much? Did the lose that much, or possibly of gained that much through this patent?

    And what next? MercExchange suing Blizzard for it's "Buyout" option in its online game World of Warcraft? As ridiculous as this is, they might as well try... Wait, maybe I shouldn't feed them these thoughts....

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

  7. identicon
    Loganscomputer, Dec 12th, 2007 @ 11:31pm

    The WoW auction house is next.

    I can see it now, the buy it now price is gone from the WoW auction house and the court fines Blizzard 25 million Gold pieces for daring to put it in there, oh yeah and a level 70 blood elf mage.

    It's only a matter of time!

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

  8. identicon
    inc, Dec 13th, 2007 @ 1:14am

    Re: The WoW auction house is next.


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

  9. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 13th, 2007 @ 5:38am

    Prior Art?

    Didn't they offer instant buy outs in auctions as far back as the 1600's?
    I am sure it is hardly a new idea.

    On another note, somebody actually trademarked "Brown Chicken Brown Cow" (think generic sleezy porn sound if you tried to put it into words).

    .. I'm not joking about that one.

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

  10. identicon
    PatentMyAss, Dec 13th, 2007 @ 10:56am

    The World Has Gone Insane

    Its really funny when reading news articles about this case to see the term "technology" used to describe this asinine patent. Exactly what "technology" is involved in displaying a button that lets a buyer buy a product for the price advertised? Here is the price. If you want to buy this product for this price, click here. Wow! This is really Rocket Science. It sure must have taken a Super Genius to invent the "technology" that allows someone to indicate acceptance of an offered price.

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

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