Did Diana Ross have the casting vote?
How long have the Supremes been involved in corporate law?
Online auctioneer eBay is to appeal a US court decision relating to its patent dispute with MercExchange. MercExchange holds patents relating to internet auctions, and on Tuesday a court in Virginia found eBay had infringed some of its patents. The company was awarded $30m from eBay. For its part, eBay said the court had …
From the article: "The case relates to eBay's "Buy It Now" function."
From the AP report: "The dispute revolves around eBay's "Buy It Now" option".
From the AP report: "...prevented eBay from continuing to use the "Buy It Now" feature."
From the AP report: "... licensing fees for use of its patented technology...."
As usual in 'IT' patent cases, it seems difficult to figure out what exactly has been patented and in what way the complainant feels that all their hard work and investment has been infringed by the defendant.
I fail to see how a 'feature' or 'option' can be patented in any case (rather than any specially developed technology required to implement or present them). A 'function' might be worthy of protection but it depends on how you define it etc.
I'm not familiar with the history of auctions but I'm sure that someone somewhere at sometime has publicly stated - "tell you what, you can have it for 3 florins right now if you like", hence prior art.
Given that e-Bay have so vigorously defended the case, it seems to be something more fundamental than having to rewrite a block of 'accidentally copied' code or detailed functional implementation.
Could this be another 'One Click' or does anyone know more details of the case?
That's right, every coke machine has a series of "Buy It Now" buttons. You'll also find buy-it-now buttons on chocolate machines on many tube stations. Come to think of it, even the ticket machines have buy-it-now buttons. All those date back to at least the fifties and the seventies.
So, what's different about ebay's buttons that makes this patent-holder (correction, semi-legalised thief) feel that it can sue ebay rather than coke, cadburys and TFL ?
Another bogus patent claim, and ebay should sue USPO for its part in aiding and abetting these outrages.
The mere concept of offering a Buy Something Now button has been around since the beginning of the commerical internet, and as you point out has been a mechanical (rather than digital) feature for much, much longer.
However, I'm fairly sure the method that's patent infringing is that of offering a Buy it Now feature in what is otherwise an auction, ie a fixed price offer on top of a end-bid price.
I've not done any background reading on this, I'm just using assumption and commonsense :)
There were definitely chocolate machines on at least two tube stations last time I used the tube -- coming back from a ebay/paypal meeting, as it happens -- though it probably was a couple of years ago.
Correction, they SHOULD have been chocolate machines but neither of them was actually willing to supply any chocolate -- and I guess is they were removed because they couldn't keep them in working order rather than because they had buy-it-now buttons.
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