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eBay May Lose 'Buy it Now' Button in Patent Case 177

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the ain't-it-obvious-yet dept.
Spamicles writes "A judge has delayed his ruling on the eBay patent infringement case. eBay has been involved in a legal dispute over the use of its popular "Buy it Now" button, which allows consumers to skip the bidding and purchase items on eBay directly. The patent suit was filed six years ago by MercExchange L.L.C. In May of 2003, a jury ruled in MercExchange's favor finding that eBay did in fact infringe on the patent, but in 2005 the US Supreme Court ruled that MercExchange was not automatically entitled to a court order blocking the offending service, essentially handing a victory down to patent reform advocates. However, the ruling by the Supreme Court does not affect the final judgment of the court."
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eBay May Lose 'Buy it Now' Button in Patent Case

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  • Yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lisandro (799651) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:36AM (#19515489)
    That makes sense. Yay for software patents!
    • Re:Yeah (Score:4, Informative)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:55AM (#19515569) Homepage Journal
      That makes sense. Yay for software patents!

      Doesn't even strike me as a software patent - more of a business process patent.
      • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:47AM (#19516933) Homepage Journal
        Which hints at the ultimate remedy for this nonsense:
        Shaming.
        When companies engage in blatant absurdity, and try to abuse the legal system in the name of lining their wallets, the online community needs to publicize the fact that these companies suck much pond water.
        After enough negative profit impact from bogus lawsuits, even the most pointy-haired of bosses will get the memo.
        If the gubmint can't do the right thing, then let's rally the market.

        Consider this still-steaming loaf of farce:

        "Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned," NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton said. "If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year."
        http://www.contentagenda.com/CA6452245.html [contentagenda.com]
        RMS torpedoed this one nicely: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html [gnu.org]
        Unfortunately, money both talks and buys legislation.
        • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vadim_t (324782) on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:16AM (#19517013) Homepage
          Shaming won't work against patent trolls.

          They won't give a damn about their reputation, lawsuits and patent licensing is how they do business. In fact, probably the more infamous they become the better, as companies would be more likely to just pay up.

          What is needed is anti-patent troll legislation: If you don't make it, you don't get to own a patent on it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            With sufficient money in the game, the legislation is doomed.

            lawsuits and patent licensing is how they do business
            Which is why their business should be attacked in the marketplace through better visibility of a) who is the troll, and b) who are they doing business with. We need to create the anti-troll.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by KDR_11k (778916)
              How? Their income isn't from customers willing to open their wallets but companies that were defeated in court. They can't be beaten with that method as they don't do anything so they can't run afoul of any patent. Nothing short of a well placed bullet can end it in a way that doesn't make the troll happy.
          • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

            by GeckoX (259575) on Friday June 15, 2007 @09:07AM (#19517845)
            How about simple rules for obviousness?

            The fact that this can even be patented is frankly asinine.

            If it's not truly original, if it's just stacking a bunch of existing lego pieces together in another configuration, if it's blatantly obvious, then No Fucking Patent!

            What I don't understand is why the court system doesn't get this, why it continues to foster this situation by allowing this crap to go on.

            It's a fucking BUTTON.

            It's NO different when it comes right down to it to walking into a store and buying something from the clerk.

            INVENT something and I'll fully support your right to capitalize and prosper from it. Re-package the fucking wheel again, and try to gain the same protection, and you should have your head forcibly rammed as far up your ass as it will go, and then a bit more just to be sure.
            • Re:Yeah (Score:4, Interesting)

              by epee1221 (873140) on Friday June 15, 2007 @10:25AM (#19518727)
              Take a look at what else they have: http://mercexchange.com/solutions.htm [mercexchange.com]

              An abbreviated list:
              • searching for products in a market
              • conducting online auctions
              • branding an online business
              • streaming price info (think stock ticker)


              • I'm afraid I don't see much of anything non-obvious on their list, and there's likely plenty of prior art as well. The "online auction" patent was filed in 1999; eBay was founded in 1995. How bad is it when a patent troll gets away with patenting things that aren't even new?
              • by GeckoX (259575)

                How bad is it when a patent troll gets away with patenting things that aren't even new?


                Plainly, things are FUBAR. Irreparably IMHO.
            • ...How would you feel if I patented a wheel-based device for forcibly ramming heads up asses?

              Or (given that you're unlikely to survive such a procedure), is this fucking-wheel you mentioned prior art?
          • "What is needed is anti-patent troll legislation: If you don't make it, you don't get to own a patent on it."

            Then how are one man inventors going to be able to get a patent on their invention that takes serious capital to create? Your solution would make patents available to corporations only.
            • I can see your point with regard to ideas that are truly expensive to implement.

              I don't think this applies to software. How much does it cost to put a button on a web page?
            • by sqlrob (173498)
              And how do you know it works if you haven't created a version?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          "Which hints at the ultimate remedy for this nonsense:
          Shaming."

          hmmm right direction, but... how about "Shenanigans"

          Barbrady: "People of South Park, do you declare Shenanigans on the carnival people?"
          angry mob: Yeah!
          Barbrady: Okay, carnival people, do you accept this decree of Shenanigans?
          Woman: ...What the hell are you talking about?! This whole town is screwy!
          Barbrady: Well, that settles it! Everybody grab a broom, it's Shenanigans!

          (the mob cheers; brooms, pitchforks, and lit torches are already in their h
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      More importantly, does this mean that the auction house in WoW will lose its 'Buyout' button? O NOES!!
    • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:44AM (#19516011) Journal
      Heh. Given that, say, the in-game auction house on WoW has an instant buy option too, I wonder how long until they'll want their cut there too.

      And will they take the license fee in game money, since that's all that changes virtual hands? I can just see a party of lawyers riding to Ironforge and Orgrimmar to demand their license fees.

      Well, the dwarves might even pay up, but I'd worry about trying to collect from the Orcs. I doubt anyone explained to Thrall yet how the license system works. And troll tribes tend to kill each other on sight, so I'd advise the patent trolls to stay clear of the Darkspear trolls ;)
      • It's a semantic issue. Change the button to read, "Bid x dollars" where x is the instant purchase amount. The auction closes for that item shortly thereafter, and bingo. Problem solved.
        • by Moraelin (679338)
          Well, poo, there you go and ruin my fantasy. It's a nicer thought to think someone will sue the royal court of Ironforge and I get to ambush their wagons loaded with gold coins ;)
  • by GroundBounce (20126) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:49AM (#19515547)
    "Buy it later"
  • by Jack9 (11421) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:57AM (#19515573)
    What this ruling is, is a concession by the courts for big business interests. The state has no interest in patent reform.
    • You mean it doesn't have anything to do with mouth-breathing juries not being able to know when a claim is full of shit?
      • by Jack9 (11421)
        Why would the juries knowledge or lack thereof in the original matter have anything to do with the finding? The ruling was made, this does not change the pertinent ruling in any way. What was decided in the Supreme Court, simply gave eBay another delay in implementing the inevitable court order, which will block eBay from continuing to provide a "Buy it now" button. I wish I had the money to bribe appelate judges so my lawyers could attempt to put up more stumbling blocks. The courts don't care about patent
  • Alternative (Score:5, Funny)

    by kmahan (80459) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:00AM (#19515585)
    "Buy it after waiting 1 second" button.
  • by ATAMAH (578546) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:01AM (#19515609)
    "Purchase it straight away" button, or something along those lines... We are a community where the mindset of "can't make profit? Litigate !" - and it is only getting worse.
  • by davmoo (63521) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:09AM (#19515639)
    I thought seriously about tagging this story with the tag "bull shit", because that's what this patent is. This should become the new poster child for "patent troll" and "patent office stupidity". This is even a more boneheaded patent than Amazon's non-innovation of one click buying (which always seems to take me two or three clicks anyway).

    What's next, they're going so take Walmart to court because Walmart lets me buy something without bidding on it? Are they going to take the owners of the live auction I go to each week to court because after high bid is set on an item, they allow those present to buy multiples of that same item for the same high bid without running another auction process?

    I'm all for the rights of a business to prosper and benefit from their original ideas. But this patent is about as far from "original" as you can get, and is as original as my getting up out of bed each morning and taking a piss. This company should be exterminated like the worthless parasite that it is. I said it before about SCO, and it applies here too...those who can innovate, while those who can't litigate.
  • According to AP reports, the USPTO has looked at the patents issued to MercExchange, and in early findings, the USPTO said that the patents held by MercExchange should not have been issued.

    Aye!! You just sneezed!! I have a patent on this style of sneezing! Pay me $$$$ !!
    Aye! You just did a double click using the mouse! I own the patent for double clicking! Pay me now!!
    Aye!! You just farted!! It smells crap!! ta-da..patent... I will sue ya!!

    I wonder what other patents were granted in the past...
  • by FraterNLST (922749) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:10AM (#19515649) Homepage
    The current patent laws are so stupid that it causes me physical pain to witness the things that actually make it to court. When the people envisaging the patent system designed it, had they recieved applications like the ones routinely honoured today, they would have laughed the applicant out of their office. What they are claiming to have a patent on is the idea, or process, whereby you buy an item for a set price rather than bidding on it... ..... ...... And your court system is happy to deliberate on this. Seriously, how much deliberation do they require? I bought some sushi today from the local sushi bar, and I didn't have to bid on it... they are obviously in violation of this patent... and I bought some hardware components from an online retailer, didn't have to bid there either. The idea of patents was to enable people, particularly individuals on limited budgets, to profit from their original inventions. One of the core requirements of a patent is that it not be for something obvious. Lets be honest. Does it get more obvious than the purchasing of something for a set price? Is there anyone that isn't familiar with that idea? I think i'm going to burst a blood vessel on this one.
  • eBay must pay $35 million in patent case A federal jury has ruled that eBay's model for selling fixed-price merchandise violates a patent filed by a Virginia attorney...
    http://edition.cnn.com/2003/TECH/biztech/05/28/eba y.lawsuit.ap/ [cnn.com]

    So, attorney's sell merchandise, and for a fixed price? Now if only I could find these prices somewhere.

  • Betcha no one has ever patented the concept of a 'doorbell' wherein you depress a momentary-contact switch to activate a sound-generating device that signals to all of those within hearing distance that someone is standing in front of the door and wishes to gain access. The old patents cover the idea of pulling a rope or chain to ring a bell but those are so yesterday.
  • by Nymz (905908) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:49AM (#19515793) Journal
    MercExchange patents 'buy it now' - Thank You!
    Ebay negotiates a license - How much you want?
    Ebay doesn't get a license - Whoa! That's too much
    Ebay intentionally uses it anyway - What are they gonna do, sue us?
    MercExchange brings a lawsuit against Ebay - Yes
    Judge rules in favor of MercExchange - I can see your name on the patent
    Judge misapplies injuction process - this stuff is complicated
    Ebay appeals the injuction - HaHa! a technicality
    Judges rule that the injunction was done wrong - I can see the process wasn't followed
    Judges also comment on current patent law - this shit sucks
    MercExchange requests the injunction be applied permanently - we hate Ebay
    Ebay requests postponement until patent is reassessed - No rush, we can wait 10 years
    Judge must now make a decision - damned if I do, damned if I don't
  • by eepok (545733) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:54AM (#19515815) Homepage
    Could someone please explain to me why certain patent battles, such as this, aren't just investigated for "independent creation" on the part of the accused infringer?

    I'm pretty sure that I was taught in college that 2 people can hold the patents to 2 very similar products so long as both came up with their respective products independent of each other. With such a simple idea as "Buy it now", wouldn't a rational judge throw such a case out?

    Besides simple corruption of the legal system by big money, what am I missing?
    • IAmostcertainlyNAL, but I think you are incorrect. Patents are an absolute monopoly (unlike copyright, where independent creation is a legitimate defense).

      Still, a rational judge should still throw this out! I think the idea of a buy it now function is exceedingly obvious, and I am no auctioneer!

    • I think you've confused patent and copyright law. A patent grants you the right to exclude others from your invention no matter whether they came up with the same idea on their own or copied it from you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259)
      You're thinking of copyright, not patents. Patents grant an absolute monopoly, it doesn't matter that you came up with the infringing idea/product/whatever completely independently. All that matters is whether or not you can demonstrate prior art and have the patent invalidated.

      That's one of the reasons why a lot of companies file vapourware patents on ideas before they're ready to actually implement them. If they took the time to do all the research, someone else might beat them to getting the patent and t
      • All that matters is whether or not you can demonstrate prior art and have the patent invalidated.

        Interestingly, in the world of ETL, Informatica won their patent infringement case against Business Objects from what I've read, but IBM's Data Stage product was cleared because of prior art. All it means is that IBM is allowed to infringe on Informatica's ETL patent and Business Objects is not.

        The whole notion of patenting a business process is absurd, and the notion of patenting a software algorithm too is st
    • I'm pretty sure that I was taught in college that 2 people can hold the patents to 2 very similar products so long as both came up with their respective products independent of each other.

      There is no allowance for independent creation. First person to invent and file wins. Infact, if someone has invented something and does not patent it but does publish the invention, someone else cannot patent the same invention unless they can prove they were first. This is because patents should only be granted on inventions that are novel (i.e. no prior art exists) and non-obvious.

      With such a simple idea as "Buy it now", wouldn't a rational judge throw such a case out?

      It does seem to stretch the bounds of "non-obvious". However this case does not appear to be about evaluating the patent's

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheoMurpse (729043)

      I'm pretty sure that I was taught in college that 2 people can hold the patents to 2 very similar products so long as both came up with their respective products independent of each other.

      College taught you wrong, for that is not true. In fact, the very opposite is true -- independent creation is not a defense to patent infringement. From Hyperlaw:

      In the United States, patents confer rights to exclude others from making, using, or selling in the United States the invention claimed by the patent for a period

    • Thanks to all who replied and cleared this up! =) (The mix up of mine being the terminology "patent" and "copyright".)

      According to the patent here HERE [uspto.gov] it looks exactly like a "Buy-Out Auction" but on a computah. Does this then imply that I can take any archaic process put it on a computah (or just say I can) and patent troll, too?

      Sounds very Half Baked -- "... but have you seen it... on weed?
  • Screw them. Until E-bay institutes a much needed "overtime" change, I will never do business anymore. I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.

    Here's how it should work. Let's say the bid ends today at 5:00pm. However, if someone places a bid at 4:50pm, it should extend the end time to 5:10pm. At this point, it will continue to be extended to 5:20, 5:30, and 5:40 as long as there still bidding going on. Only when there's a period of inactivity, the
    • by MaelstromX (739241) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:50AM (#19516047)

      Screw them. Until E-bay institutes a much needed "overtime" change, I will never do business anymore. I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.


      Evidently the people who use these programs want the items you are bidding on more than you do, or it would not matter that they are entering last-minute bids. Enter as your maximum bid the highest possible price you would want to buy the item for, and it won't matter if somebody enters a bid at the last possible moment because you will automatically outbid them.

      If you are not willing to do this, chances are the other person wants the item more than you do (i.e. is willing to pay more for it, no matter when they entered their bid) and thus you don't deserve to win it. The system is not broken.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by TheDormouse (614641)
        Thank you for explaining this.

        The problem with eBay is stupid bidders. If everyone would figure out how much they were willing to pay, then bid that much and be done with it, we'd all be happier buyers.

        The problem is the bidders who either (1) have no idea how much they are willing to pay but, by God, they're gonna win this auction, or (2) they don't understand the way the bidding process works. Some people belong in both groups.

        The people in group 1 somewhat artificially drive up the price. They increase t
        • Come, now. Isn't this part of the classical heap paradox? If you're willing to pay $200, why not $201? This is actually a classical paradox in decision theory, see the dollar auction [wikipedia.org] example.
          • by rs79 (71822)
            The high bid at the end of the auction wins. Period. Why is this so hard to understand?

    • by great throwdini (118430) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:57AM (#19516085)

      I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over. [Bidding should] continue to be extended ... as long as there still bidding going on. Only when there's a period of inactivity, the bid is closed. [...] So WTF is holding E-bay back? Do they WANT to piss everyone off?

      Oh, I dunno. Is it because people have lives and aren't interested in listings on the glorified yardsale that is eBay being extended indefinitely with nickle-and-dime bids? Or perhaps it's the potential for abuse as shills hammer open-ended closings to maximize gain at the expense of others? Then again, it could just be that eBay doesn't think it worth the effort to rewrite the codebase so an item can climb from $1.00 to $2.00 over the course of another hour?

      Compared to real-world auctions, the vast majority of items on eBay aren't worth much and the potential number of bidders is far, far larger. Both these factor into why open-ended closure isn't as cut-and-dried a process as you lay out. It just doesn't make sense, especially to eBay, a company that wants quick sell-through (look at their fee structuring) rather than lingering listings. That was the motivation to the introduction of Buy It Now in the first place, and your proposal runs counter to that.

      There's no magic to beating last-minute dropped connections or competing automated bids: just bid what you're willing to pay up front, and if you don't win, wait for the item to turn up again (and again) from another seller. Even under your plan, those two self-indentified evils would still exist, only moreso, as the timeframe for each would be extended. I don't see how sliding auction closure does anything to address either in the least.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        Actually there was a bug in Ebay that allowed you to place a bid up to 8 seconds after close if you used one of the European servers to place your bid. Lots of people used it for a while to snag a item after bidding closed until the hole was closed (It was a time slip). The other problem with bidding what you are willing to pay is that ebay is full of incredibly stupid people bidding. I have seen used items go for more money than what you could have bought it new for on Amazon or other online store. Peop
        • Bidding what you think it's worth to you usually does not work. Sniping at the last second is what get's you a lightly used Canon rebel XT digital camera body for $145.00, Or a Toughbook CF-30 for a $450.00 price. Nither of those would have been won at those really low prices if I sat there bidding like everyone else.

          Bidding what you think it's worth does work. What you're talking about is being cheap, and it's an attitude shared by nearly all who snipe -- which is why waiting until the last second wo

    • by nagora (177841)
      I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.

      Bid slightly over what you want to pay and then forget it; that's the secret to eBay. If you get the item, then fine. If not, then at least you haven't paid more than you wanted to. The system you're suggesting would be abused sideways to Sunday.

      Personally, I'd like to see the end of "Buy it now" (although not because of a lame patent). I came for an auction, not a row of bloody Hong Kong shops.

      TWW

      • by Spacejock (727523)
        95% of the time I use Buy-it-now, especially for consumables and cheapo stuff (which is why I'm reading this Slashdot story in the first place) It's just not worth the effort to bid on $5 or $10 items only to wait 7-10 days and get knocked off by someone else. (And if you bid $15 or $17 or $21 someone will still beat you by 50c) I'd rather pay the $15 up front and secure the item.
      • mod parent up (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cyclomedia (882859)
        seriously, there's no point getting into a bidding war on any item on ebay and this is the approach i take.

        I actually think that ebay (or $NewCompetitor) would do well to change the whole system over to blind bidding. That is you put in the max you're willing to pay at the start and have to wait until the auction is over to see who won and at what price and the auto-bid history behind that. Throughout the duration of the auction there would be no "current bid" on display, just the start price and the number
        • by kobaz (107760)

          seriously, there's no point getting into a bidding war on any item on ebay and this is the approach i take... Throughout the duration of the auction there would be no "current bid" on display, just the start price and the number of bidders. If person A bids $10 max and person B bids $15 max person B will still win with $10.01 but they'd both have to wait and see.
          Ebay wouldn't even make half the money it does now if they adopted that approach.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      Do they WANT to piss everyone off?

      Yes. I think this is their entire business strategy.
    • by SharpFang (651121)
      Why are you bidding less than you are willing to pay, in the proxy bidding auction?

      People who keep bidding by 1 penny until they outbid me piss me off.

      Oh well, I simply learned to use these systems. They are mostly free to use and work like a charm protecting against stupid people who have no clue what proxy bidding is, against kids who bid just to piss you off and never buy, and against crooked sellers who use fake account on rare wares. Plus doesn't advertize given seller.

      Case 1: the item is worth to you
    • I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.

      The only person screwing you over is yourself. The item went to someone who bid simply higher than you did.

      If you failed to submit your real maximum bid before the end of the auction then you only have yourself to blame.
    • Until E-bay institutes a much needed "overtime" change, I will never do business anymore. I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.
      Adding overtime in case the bidders' maximum bids continue to rise would make eBay subject to more states' regulations of auction venues.
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Friday June 15, 2007 @03:10AM (#19516145) Journal
    Is it any surprise the courts make these sort of decisions?

    A few days ago we had an idiot judge (yes, a *judge*) suing cleaners $54M for the emotional stress of losing is pants http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2007/06/12/AR2007061201667.html?hpid=moreheadli nes [washingtonpost.com]
    and hot on the heals of that we had an idiotic ruling by a U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian decreeing that RAM shall be archived. And we've got an Attorney General, the #1 lawyer in the country, who smirks "I don't recall" for hours of testimony, then goes back to work and it's business as usual.

    The entire judicial legal system is an anachronism. As we've seen, it contains some very clueless (and sometimes downright stupid) people making important decisions. We've got patent law which is way out of control and anti-trust law which might as well not exist at all. The law is written for and sometimes even by corporations like the RIAA and Disney http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20020305_s prigman.html [findlaw.com] , in exchange for campaign donations http://consumerist.com/xml/comments/264638 [consumerist.com] . And lets not forget about hot cups of coffee. The entire legal system is a joke. The problem is people like Judge Pearson, Magistrate Chooljian and Attorney General Gonzales don't know it. They think they're important public officials part of a proud tradition who are loved and admired by the population they rule^H^H^H^Hserve. Suspect many people think otherwise.

    Time to turf the whole thing out and start again. I mean, how much worse is this going to get?

    At least Americans are lucky they don't like in the former British Empire where you get some senile git wearing a black cape and a powdered wig banging a hammer and glaring at you, and expecting to be taken seriously. "This is my court!" they thunder. If any other public servant did that in their workplace, they'd be taken away for psychiatric assessment.
    • by GauteL (29207)
      "A few days ago we had an idiot judge (yes, a *judge*) suing cleaners $54M for the emotional stress of losing is pants"

      This is because the US has punitive damages in the legal system. You would never see a similar lawsuit in most of Europe, because most countries only award actual damages.

      I understand the idea of using punitive damages as a deterrent against people and companies not upholding their obligations and breaking regulations, but then the punitive damages should not go to the people suing them in
      • by will_die (586523)
        That lawsuit is mainly about the sign in the shop saying "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" he is doing so under a stupid provision under a Washington D.C> consumer protection act. If this was just about the pants he would just be eligible for the money to replace them, you could make the case for replacement of the whole suit.
        The U.S. and Europe are pretty much the same with just actual costs for the loss of property, it is the punitive damages in the US that are killing them. The pun
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2007 @05:44AM (#19516767)

      And lets not forget about hot cups of coffee
      Gah, everything else in your comment is spot on but people always bring the McCoffee thing up as an example of a frivolous lawsuit when it actually wasn't. The coffee was very hot, enough to cause serious burns (she needed skin grafts). They had previously been advised it was dangerously hot but carried on serving at that temperature. The cup it was served in was flimsy and tended to collapse when the top was taken off. In short, it was inherently dangerous to be serving at a drive-through and it was quite reasonable for the court to find them criminally negligent for doing so.
      • mod parent informative

        I asked Google about the McCoffee. And it told me 300 contradictory things, including that McCoffee was drunk by whoever was on the grassy knoll and if you look closely at footage of the moonlanding, you can see a McCoffee next to a "moonrock." Then Google showed me crotch shots of celebrities getting out of limmos holding McCoffee. In the corner, an Google ad appeared saying "Buy Hot McCoffee Lap from eBay!"

        So I gave up on Google and asked Snopes.com. Snopes is the original urban leg
      • Gah, everything else in your comment is spot on but people always bring the McCoffee thing up as an example of a frivolous lawsuit when it actually wasn't. The coffee was very hot, enough to cause serious burns (she needed skin grafts).

        The coffee was at the industry standard temperature. All they managed to do was make McDonalds serve their coffee at a lower temperature than recommended by the coffee trade groups. This is a product which is intended to be served in a state which is dangerous if mishandle

    • by DM9290 (797337)
      "At least Americans are lucky they don't like in the former British Empire where you get some senile git wearing a black cape and a powdered wig banging a hammer and glaring at you, and expecting to be taken seriously. "This is my court!" they thunder. If any other public servant did that in their workplace, they'd be taken away for psychiatric assessment."

      And whats with all that "your honour" and the 'oh yea oh yea. ' and 'God Save the Queen' and the bowing and the respect...
      then again prey tell, how shoul
  • for such shit like patenting something similar to a roadside label with a writing on it, only because it is translated into digitized environment, does not exist.
  • by simong (32944) on Friday June 15, 2007 @05:24AM (#19516707) Homepage
    Before someone in say, the Trade Department, realises that every stupid patent awarded, every 10 year old summonsed by the RIAA and every stupid copyright restriction imposed or self-imposed on websites is adversely affecting the trading position of the USA in the world? It's not to say that real world issues should be ignored by the Internet but there has to be some common sense applied and less of this blind gold rush. Ebay's response could be as simple as lifting their servers and moving them somewhere where software patents don't exist, which would probably be cheaper than paying whatever stupid licencing price these parasites want to impose. It's a shame that Neal Stephenson's Kinakuta doesn't yet exist, as every big US online company that has been screwed over by the cretinous US patenting system, and every company that has fallen foul of the ridiculous protectionist policies of the current government would be falling over themselves to set up there. Anyone got a spare island?
  • I've been editing a patent article for a law review for which I'm an editor. This particular article discusses European patent law, and from it I think I've learned that Europe has no business method patents and no software patents unless the software is an implementation of something that could be patentable had it been done without software (e.g., something that could be patentable if done mechanically, but because it is being done on a computer it should not be excluded from patent protection).

    Are their
    • by Husgaard (858362)
      IANAL, but I know a bit about this, so here goes:

      Check out article 52 [european-p...office.org] in the European Patent Convention.

      It basically says that business methods and software is not patentable "as such".

      When the European Patent Office released their first guidelines on how the European Patent Convention was to be interpreted, the guidelines simply stated that software cannot be patented.

      Later the European Patent Office has changed their guidelines to say something that can be condensed to something like: "If software

  • if someone else said this, for I have not read all the comments.

    Howabout
    "Buy it later"
    "Buy it this afternoon"
    "Buy it with tea and crumpets"
    "But it yesterday"
    "But it whenever the hell you want"
    "Just don't buy it"
    "Huh?"
    "Don't buy this, buy my socks"
    ?

    (ok, the last one was a reach)
  • How about replacing BUY NOW with a button that sends off an email to every congressman and senator asking them to start thinking about reforming the patent and copyright systems to reflect public good rather than the narrow interests of a few parties.

    One email to each for every click.

    Might give our elected representatives a new perspective on how popular the software/business process patent aspect of Intellectual Property is.

  • OK, granted, the article wasn't specific on what the patent was based on, but it seems to me that if you've got a website that intends to SELL something, that somewhere on that page, there should be a button to allow a potential customer to BUY the item. I am going to assume for a moment that the act of BUYING an item is not a patentable concept (I hope this assumption is correct).. If so, what is patented? The color of the button? The exact wording? What the heck? The Patent office is truly out of c
  • Add to Cart (Score:2, Informative)

    by rdx565 (1115883)
    Apart from the usage of words how is 'Buy it now' any different from 'Add to Cart'? The process seems exactly the same to me. Maybe this is why I don't have any patents to my name.
  • eBay stands accused of infringing on a software patent?

    The irony is so delicious...
  • > eBay has claimed that they have changed the code in order to prevent any patent violations claimed in the suit, but
    > MercExchange lawyers say that they are still entitled to a hearing in order to force eBay to license the patents.

    But that's not good enough for MercExchange because they're entitled to a few bucks, no?? I'm surprised Ford hasn't sued GM for making a car that looks similar to theirs. A LAW SUIT OVER A F**KING BUTTON!!! Give me a break!! This is exactly why countries like China, Ind
  • by kinglink (195330) on Friday June 15, 2007 @10:36AM (#19518911)
    I'm getting sick of these. You think if there's a million monkeys who bid on a random service no one would come up with proxy bidding (the site will bid for you up to a certain amount) or buy it now buttons, yet there's patents on both of them.

    I get really sick when simplistic business practices are considered treated the same as "trade secrets" even when they are publicly released. I get the feeling that America has become less of a free economy and more of a "patent hell". You certainly can build a better mouse trap, until the first company says they thought up the idea of a mouse trap and then your screwed.
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday June 15, 2007 @11:59AM (#19520103)
    ... the USPTO 'Patent It Now' button's use continues unabated.

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