They should sue Blizzard Entertainment too, World of Warcraft has a "buyout" option in the Auction house.
Oh I so love silly intellectual property claims...
That tiny company in Great Lakes, Virginia is re-launching its attack on eBay’s Buy-It-Now button. Four years after a federal jury found that eBay had infringed on its patent, MercExchange LLC has asked the court to shutdown Buy-It-Now, a service that allows eBayers to purchase items at set prices, without bidding at auction. U …
Maybe I'm being a bit cynical, but don't we have just a bit of prior art for the action of paying a set price for a specific item? It happens million of times every day in shops all around the world. How can someone actually patent the action of buying something? Do they also have a patent on the action of selling something?
Presumably the patent is based on the fact that it's "interrupting an auction to conclude at a previously set price" or some such, in order to separate it out from regular transactions in shops. However there must still be plenty of prior art in commercial auctions which use electronic methods - Dutch flower auctions, Japanese fish auctions, even some stock exchanges.
Perhaps they just patented the process of buying something without bidding for it... when preceded by the act of pressing a button that says "buy it now"?!
Perhaps ebay could get around the issue by renaming the button "buy it now!"?
Either way it's ridiculous.
"Buy it now" is used in two contexts on Ebay - the first to interrupt an auction to purchase at a fixed price, the second to purchase an item offered at a fixed price without auction. The second is simply a purchasing mechanism and can't possibly be patentable. The first could 'arguably' be patentable, in that it represents a non-obvious process (at least, patent lawyers could argue so).
It's bullshit anyway. But MercExchange have already made $25M, so why would they stop? The fault here lies with the US patent system, which allowed them to patent such a non-original concept, no doubt baffled by the technological issues at the time.
Here is the abstract of the patent:
A method and apparatus for creating a computerized market for used and collectible goods by use of a plurality of low cost posting terminals and a market maker computer in a legal framework that establishes a bailee relationship and consignment contract with a purchaser of a good at the market maker computer that allows the purchaser to change the price of the good once the purchaser has purchased the good thereby to allow the purchaser to speculate on the price of collectibles in an electronic market for used goods while assuring the safe and trusted physical possession of a good with a vetted bailee.
So it is the change of the price that is patented in a computerised system. Not a very original idea, wasn't that one of the criteria for achieving patent?!
Its high time somebody took out a patent on taking legal action against patents that shouldn't have been granted in the first place.
The USA needs to issue a moratorium on enforcing dubious patent infringements until such time as the equally bogus USA patent system gets scrapped and replaced by something intented to reward only genuine inventions.
Wonder if I could patent the "Post Comment" button... I would be rich... my first target would be El Reg - then I would just let them off the hook if they stopped letting the authors from using US spellings!! MWuahahahahahar....
My next patent would be on destruction of the English language....
Then on World Peace... therefore if it ever happened I would hit the jackpot and go on a world tour safely! :)
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Where is the invention and novelty in "buy it now"? What patent are they defending? What patent was infringed?
There is generally only one national body with a patent on "buy it now", and it's called the "Tax Office", and you pay "VAT" royalties (or sales tax depending on your side of the atlantic).
Then again, I remember when British Telecom tried to sue The Internet because they had patented the hyperlink... agreed, that could be argued an invention of linking documents... but patenting purchasing? Karl Marx must be spinning in his tomb...
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