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Judge Permits eBay's "Buy It Now" Feature 139

Posted by kdawson
from the there's-still-that-25-mil dept.
stalebread points to a Reuters story reporting that a federal judge refused to issue an injunction against eBay's "Buy It Now" feature. Quoting: "Judge Jerome B. Friedman of Federal District Court denied a motion by the Virginia company, MercExchange, for a permanent injunction to stop eBay from using the feature. The Supreme Court ruled last year that, although eBay infringed upon MercExchange's patent for the service, it was up to the lower court to decide whether eBay had to stop using it. 'MercExchange has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition, as MercExchange appears to possess none of these,' he wrote."
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Judge Permits eBay's "Buy It Now" Feature

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  • Ouch! (Score:4, Funny)

    by deftcoder (1090261) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @09:54PM (#20028651)

    'MercExchange has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition, as MercExchange appears to possess none of these,' he wrote.
    Ouch!
  • If only... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by memojuez (910304) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @09:55PM (#20028671)
    Is this the beginning of the end for patent trolls?
    • by Maniac-X (825402)
      We can only hope...
    • this could be huge... but I won't hold my breath... likely to die first.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      No it's not. eBay won because they're a huge corporation. In the US law system it's the only thing that counts. If it were a small company or a lowly (non-rich) individual that was the prey of that patent troll, he/it would've been screwed up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GIL_Dude (850471)
        No, that doesn't hold up. What about that patent troll Eolas that beat Microsoft on the ActiveX thing? Complain all you want about ActiveX and "yeah, but it was Micrsoft" - but in the end, Eolas was a patent troll that beat a huge company with their patent.
    • by eonlabs (921625)
      Doubtful, but it's a REALLY good step in the right direction
  • Link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mazzanet (804816) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:01PM (#20028705) Homepage
    A link to the article may be useful :)
  • by Romwell (873455) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:03PM (#20028719)
    Aaa ! Something is going wrong =)
  • by strredwolf (532) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:03PM (#20028721) Homepage Journal
    Judge Permits eBay's "Buy it Now" feature to continue [google.com] -- 96+ articles found in Google News.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Google News has articles about everything. Hell, by definition they have articles about everything in Slashdot since it carries Slashdot. This is +5 Informative now!?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:04PM (#20028729)
    Knock Knock

    Who's there?

    Merc.

    Merc Who?

    MercExchange.

    MercExchange Who?

    I know, I know, don't let the door hit me on the way out.
    • by lancejjj (924211) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @06:49AM (#20031089) Homepage

      MercExchange.
      MercExchange Who?
      I know, I know, don't let the door hit me on the way out.
      The only disturbing part of all this is that it would appear that perhaps the law favors large, recognized companies. Small companies and individuals would seem to have a substantial disadvantage under the law.

      Don't get me wrong - I think patent law has been totally out of control for the last decade or more. I also think it has its place. But in all cases, I'd hope that the law would apply to everyone, and not just for the protection and benefit of the largest, wealthiest, or most highly recognized names.

      This seems to be pop law. "I'm not ruling in your favor, as you're not the type of company/organization/person I think you should be, and some other things". It isn't that the law is being interpreted here - it's that a judgement is being passed on the qualities of one of the parties, without regard to the law.

      Sounds like the new, crappy judicial system is coming back into town. The super-wealthy may rejoice.
      • by budgenator (254554) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @08:32AM (#20031547) Journal
        I think what the court is trying to say is that because patents are intended to Promote useful arts and sciences, that a company without useful products to promote shouldn't be afforded a full monopoly on their patented methods. Obviously MercExchange seems to be a black case a patent holder without a product or intention of having one just trolling the system and there are many white cases where companies hold a patent produce a product and even license to competitors. The gray cases are going to be the tough ones, the small guy struggling to bring a product to market and eventually gives up and makes money through licensing alone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hackstraw (262471)

        MercExchange is a pseudo-business front for a patent lawyer. I did research on them when I first heard about them, and its pretty clear what they are.

        This ruling on allowing the "buy it now" feature seems clearly the right one, but the thing that really bothers me is that I don't see parasites like this going away, and what is going to happen once something stupid like this actually gets backed. The SCO fiasco and one click patent are great examples.

        I mean how much time and money and effort is wasted on c
      • by StikyPad (445176)
        "I'm not ruling in your favor, as you're not the type of company/organization/person I think you should be, and some other things"

        The word you're looking for is "credibility," and it always plays a large role in the court. If the judge or jury doesn't believe what you're saying, things could get grim. In any case, this wasn't "I don't like you and here's the loophole I've found to rule against you," rather, to obtain an injunction one must demonstrate irreparable damage. The judge basically said "Money c
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:06PM (#20028749)

    I dislike software patents, and I dislike patent trolls. But think of the consequences of this decision: Only large companies with "market share" or a "brand name" are afforded the protection of software patents. Which only promotes the status quo by keeping all lobbists in favor of it. On the other hand, a big company can use patent law to protect their legal monopoly.

    I know it's not news that laws apply differently to the rich and powerful, but I thought that at least there was a veener of similarity.

    • by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:12PM (#20028787)
      Really, in this case, it just allows everyone to use something that shouldn't be patentable.

      Its as if no one could sale a cola drink because Coke patented the idea of cola. Coke can't patent cola. They can do trademarking, copyrights, patent the formula, ect... but if someone comes along and makes a product like it, its fine and dandy, and good for me cause I like Pepsi better.
      • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:22PM (#20028857)

        I don't disagree that it shouldn't have been patented. What I disagree with is Amazon can patent something equally dumb, and it will stop me from infringing. But if I were to patent something dumb, like the idea of buying stuff with one-click, then they can infringe on my patent with impunity.

        And, your example is wrong. Coke cannot patent the formula (recipe formulas, unlike mathematical formulas in the form of software algorithims, are not patentable.) And Pepsi is horrible.

        • Coke could have patented the formula, but then once the 20 years were up, would have to submit it to the public domain. By keeping it a secret, they've got a perpetual monopoly on that type of cola drink as long as they can keep it.
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            You do realize that there's something called chemical analysis. If Pepsi wanted to copy Coke, they could make an identical product. The reason they don't, is that nobody wants to be just some copycat of Coke. If you're saying that "our product is the same as Coke", then you're admitting that Coke is the best, and everyone will continue to buy Coke. By creating copycat products, you validate the competitors product. Pepsi is better off saying that their product is better than Coke. Coke tried this when
            • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

              by ZorinLynx (31751)
              Ahh, but Pepsi isn't the enemy here. It's small supermarket soda makers.

              If Generic Publix Soda tastes exactly like coke, why pay more money for the coke when you can just buy Publix soda and have it taste exactly the same?

              They can even market it that way. "The same great taste at a quarter the price!"

              But apparently they don't, because store-brand soda *SUCKS*.

              -Z
              • by paitre (32242)
                I dunno, safeway's Dr Pepper analogue is actually decent, and considering that we're up to $4/12 for the name-brand crap on -sale- in my area, I'm gonna drink the 2.50/12 stuff instead.
                • You just need to keep an eye out on the sales, especially in unexpected places. Gas stations and convenience stores have, in my experience, had more frequent and better sales on cola products than the supermarkets. $2.50/12 was the perpetual sale on either coke or pepsi at one gas station near me for quite a while, while the Publix struggled to produce one $4/12 sale every 3 months. Although they did have better service.

                  Of course, if you prefer the store-brand anyway, then there's no need to watch for th
              • by CastrTroy (595695)
                Many people will just buy Coke, simply because it's coke, and not because it actually tastes better, or different than the competition. You see this with many products. Most people will buy Black Diamond or Cracker Barrel cheddar even though the noname cheddar is actually much better cheese, at a much better price. People will spend $30 on a bottle of wine, simply because they think that if it costs more, it will be better. Price does factor into it a bit, but often you can get something just as good, if
            • by sohare (1032056)
              More importantly, does anyone actually drink any of those high fructose corn syrup blends? I always thought it was a big urban legend, like people putting their wet dogs in the microwave to dry out.
            • If you're saying that "our product is the same as Coke", then you're admitting that Coke is the best, and everyone will continue to buy Coke. By creating copycat products, you validate the competitors product.
              yeah, see how well that worked with people "pirating" movies/software in asia. "oh look, their product is the same as but 1/100th the cost, but the fact it's the same validates me paying 100x as much for the genuine article!"
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by budgenator (254554)
              Chemical analysis doesn't always work and when it fails it's frequently in food and perfume analysis. I understand that Cool-Whip is impossible to duplicate without the secret.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Waitress: And to drink?
          Chuck: Coke
          Waitress: Pepsi okay?
          Chuck: Pepsi. Is Pepsi okay? No. No, my dear lady, Pepsi is not okay. Look, I don't mean to be rude here but let me school you on something. See, Pepsi, this so-called choice of a new generation, is nothing but a charlatan, a fraud, an imposter. See, the Pepsi corporation, through years of slick advertising using glitzy popstars and pseudo-scientific research, have somehow conviced the public that their product is as good as, if not better than, Coke. C
          • It's true! http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/cokelore.asp [snopes.com] No Pepsi page on Snopes. Pepsi might be the knockoff, but it is the knockoff above all others.

            I prefer Coke, I do not like the diet Coke brand(s), to me they taste like Pepsi.

            • Diet Coke was made to taste like New Coke, which was made to tast like Pepsi.

              • It's the other way around. Diet Coke pre-dated (New) Coke. (New) Coke was the Diet Coke formula with sugar instead of aspartame.

                Interestingly, the new Coca Cola Zero is the complete opposite of (New) Coke: it's the Coca-Cola Classic formula with aspartame instead of sugar.
                • Indeed, that sugar is more specifically corn sugar.
          • by iminplaya (723125)
            You know, I've been somewhere else where they don't let you decide what you want to drink: Red China.

            They got an Olympia Cafe [jt.org] there, too?
      • by Gertlex (722812)
        As mentioned before me, Coke's formula isn't patented. It is, however, a trade secret. They have protection against any outside sources stealing the formula, but if someone else should (through experimenting or similar) find the formula, and market it, the Coca-Cola company's lost its trade secret. A patent would have expired ages ago; trade secrets last until discovered.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I disagree - this means that companies with large patent portfolios and no products can't just go around making a business of lawsuits. This is a good thing.
    • The patent system is ridiculously abused. Patent a process, not an idea. And when we're done with patent reform, can we please stop extending copyrights indefinitely?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        Patent a process, not an idea.

        No, no, no. Patent a machine, not a process nor an idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MJOverkill (648024)
      Not really.

      Firstly, the Judge said that MercExchange has no apprechiable market presense at all. Any small business catering to even a small following of loyal customers has market presense. Considering that we've never even heard of MercExchange before this case came out, I doubt they have any reasonable percentage of the market (there is probably a case defined percentage used to measure this).

      Secondly, E-Bay has had this feature for years. If MercExchange was really trying to protect something so vital
    • by lakeland (218447) <lakeland@acm.org> on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:21PM (#20028849) Homepage
      It is an interesting question but I disagree with you.

      The judge has said that to have a patent being enforced, you must be showing goodwill efforts towards bringing a patent to market. That doesn't cut out small startups, all it cuts out (apart from patent trolls) are defensive patent portfolios and small research houses which attempt to develop and then sell ideas. I think they will be able to adapt to this - show they've sold other patents perhaps. Defensive patent portfolios ... well, they're mainly to stop small players and patent trolls - I think weakening them is not such a bad idea.
      • the small R&D houses that are selling licenses or even all rights would be in fact engaged in a goodwill effort to bring to market as well as the defensive portfolios. There is no sense to have a defensive portfolio and paying the maintenance fees if you don't have a product to defend.

        There are lots of patents on the books that have fallen out of effect for non-payment of the maintenance fees, which means the methods are public domain now
      • by xigxag (167441) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @11:14AM (#20032499)
        all it cuts out (apart from patent trolls) are defensive patent portfolios and small research houses which attempt to develop and then sell ideas.

        But that's a huge deal. Basically then, if you're an inventor, you're screwed. Let's say you come up with a way to increase the efficiency of jet engines. According to this, unless you actually plan on selling jet engines, you've got no way to enforce your patent. You can offer to sell the patent to a jet manufacturing company, but why should they buy it from you, since you've got no leverage over them? They can just go ahead and use your invention, and since you don't actually manufacture jet engines yourself, you can't stop them.

        And that's more or less what happened to MercExchange, at least according to this article [auctionbytes.com]. eBay came to them to offer to buy their portfolio, but really they were just looking it over to see if they could get away with violating it. And after eBay's legal team looked things over, they simply decided to pull a Microsoft and totally violate the portfolio with no compensation. And make no mistake, they did violate it, as decided by a jury. They're simply hoping at this point that they can render moot the jury verdict by getting the underlying patents [mercexchange.com] invalidated.

        Make no mistake here. eBay are the bad guys here. MercExchange aren't a patent troll company - they've got a homegrown portfolio and in my opinion deserve to have their ideas protected, insofar as ideas should be protected at all. If you want to rail against software or business method patents in general, maybe you're right, but let's start with the big fishes' huge portfolios first before we go after the guppies.

        • by jazman (9111)
          I think that's a fair comment. MercExchange's patent in this case though falls into the class "obvious idea" plus "with a computer". Here's my proposal: recognise the computer as a general purpose tool that is not part of the proposed invention and ignore the "with a computer" part when validating the patent. Streamlining a jet engine is probably going to need a computer for the implementation or for some of the design details to be hammered out, but the fundamental idea won't (for example the idea might
        • But that's a huge deal. Basically then, if you're an inventor, you're screwed. Let's say you come up with a way to increase the efficiency of jet engines. According to this, unless you actually plan on selling jet engines, you've got no way to enforce your patent. You can offer to sell the patent to a jet manufacturing company, but why should they buy it from you, since you've got no leverage over them? They can just go ahead and use your invention, and since you don't actually manufacture jet engines your

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Only large companies with "market share" or a "brand name" are afforded the protection of software patents.

      That's not how I read tis. A small software company has a brand name and a market share, just like the big boys, and that's just as entitled to protection. What this decision seems to say is that if you're not making use of a patent, you're not entitled to protect it. The US patent system is almost out of control and this might be a sign the courts are starting to do what's needed to get it back

    • by newsblaze (894675) *
      I think the judge's comment means they did it only to get money, not to protect something they were using, not that only big companies can make claims. Its ambiguous. And that ahouldn't have been patentable anyway, just like the Amazon one click.
    • by Dak RIT (556128) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @11:12PM (#20029125) Homepage
      I think you're misreading the judges comment. The judge clearly stated that 'MercExchange has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition', which means that, while market share is one possible valid reason to exercise patent rights, it is by no means a requirement (which is why the judge used the word 'or' and not 'and' when listing possible reasonable uses).

      Reputation, good will, and name recognition cover quite a lot of additional ground. I don't think this should be the ultimate test for acceptable patent use as laid out in this case, but I think the judge came to the correct decision in the case, and at least has made strides towards a more reasonable patent test.

      That said, it would be nice to see more done to undermine 'obvious' patents.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by the_womble (580291)
      Small companies have market share: they have a small market share.

      The judge is saying that this company has no market share at all. It does not use the patent itself, so it is unfair to stop Ebay from using the patented idea, becuase Merc Exchange suffer no loss as a result of Ebays use.

      Please note this only affects the injunction: Merc Exchange still gets damages.
      • But eBay is a Golliah, so taking them on would be nigh impossible. On the other hand, if yours was the only online auction site that offered "Buy It Now" type functionallity, you might be able to eke out a percentage of the market.

        So, the real question is, if they licensed it exclusivly to one of eBay's competitors, would they then be able to get an injunction?

    • How are you supposed to gain market share or establish a brand name if someone else is permitted to infringe upon your legal patent and utilize technology that has been defined as yours? How much market share is necessary? What brand names are significant and which are not? If the manufacturers of Sparkle paper towels patented something, would there be any reason to prevent Bounty, Brawny, or Scott from simply copying them? Should Subaru stop wasting more money on further innovation for fear of Toyota steal
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        Now you are whining. Patent something non-obvious and useful, and you will gain market share. If you do something called WORK.
    • The injunction wasn't denied JUST because it wasn't a big company. It was denied because:

      - MercExchange was not using the technology, AND
      - MercExchange had never used the technology, AND
      - MercExchange had no plans to use the technology, AND
      - MercExchange had never licensed the technology, AND
      - MercExchange had no plans to license the technology.

      This ruling doesn't say you have to be a big company with a brand reputation to get an injunction. If, for example, you had sold an exclusive license to another company, you would still get your injunction. But, if you were going to patent something, then do nothing with it until someone else did, then when they do you sue them and demand that they stop, the judge is going to say no, force the infringer to pay you, and that's the end of it. 'Inventor' gets paid, infringer stays in business providing the service the inventor never had any intention of providing themselves anyway, and consumer gets to purchase the service. Everybody wins, but the patent troll doesn't get an inordinately large payment by holding an entire business hostage.
    • by deblau (68023)
      Exactly. Remember NTP v. RIM? The guy who developed wireless email tried to market it to Blackberry, but they turned him down and made their own, infringing system. At that time NTP had no "market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition." How were they supposed to get any use out of their patent, unless there was the threat of injunction? And why have patents at all, if they don't protect your ideas?
  • Oh yes (Score:4, Funny)

    by wamerocity (1106155) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:24PM (#20028865) Journal
    Boy, I remember the good ole' days when the Old Fashioned American Lottery used to be as simple as being a lawyer and waiting in the emergency room to find people that were hurt in accidents.

    We have become so much more complicated these days, where now we take simple ideas that are difficult to work around like using the letter "i" or the "click" and suing people that use them for large amounts of money.

    • We have become so much more complicated these days, where now we take simple ideas that are difficult to work around like using the letter "i" or the "click" and suing people that use them for large amounts of money.
      Or rather the laws have become so complex that common sense can be bypassed by obscure combinations of clauses and loopholes.

      - RG>
  • Obvious? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jorghis (1000092) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:52PM (#20029023)
    Why isnt anyone involved in this case pointing out that a patent has to be non-obvious? Is there something I am missing here? Legally that patent shouldnt be worth poop. At least in theory.
    • by ecahoon (93919) *
      Perhaps it has been pointed out, just not part of this story.
    • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @11:59PM (#20029393) Homepage

      Why isnt anyone involved in this case pointing out that a patent has to be non-obvious? Is there something I am missing here? Legally that patent shouldnt be worth poop. At least in theory.
      As I understand it, the "non-obvious" part applies only to prior art, i.e. if someone skilled in the art would also seize upon the same solution naturally, given the starting point of prior art upon which the patent has been built. The trouble we have is that the USPTO only considers it "prior art" if it has been previously patented. This causes trouble when you're dealing with crap like this that has no patented prior art because it shouldn't have been patented in the first place.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tablizer (95088)
        The recent Supream court ruling on obvious combinations may give strength to the obviousness claim. Almost any B-or-higher graduate in computer science can build a functioning Buy-It-Now button, and this can be tested. It is dumb to allow the patenting of goals. Only implimentations should be patentable.
      • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Informative)

        by kansas1051 (720008) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @08:10AM (#20031429)

        The trouble we have is that the USPTO only considers it "prior art" if it has been previously patented.

        MercExchange's patent was found non-obvious by the trial court during the law suit. You are 100% wrong regarding what evidence can be presented to show that an invention is obvious. Both a federal court and the USPTO can consider any evidence available to one skilled in the art, which includes any publicly-accessible information. If you do some searching, you'll discover that its common for patent examiners to use archive.org to reject patent applications.

        I'll even provide a link [uspto.gov] from the MPEP (the manual used by the patent office) for you.

      • the USPTO only considers it "prior art" if it has been previously patented
        I'm not a patent attorney, but I don't think that's quite right, the way I understood it is the USPTO doesn't search for prior art outside of it's database of patents, but can recognize prior art it's made aware of. The USPTO depends on the patent applicant to search for prior art which leads to obvious problems with due diligence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2007 @10:57PM (#20029043)
    Great court, fast ruling, judge RECOMMENDED A+++++++
  • by White Flame (1074973) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @11:28PM (#20029229)

    The Constitution of the United States gives Congress the power to enact laws relating to patents, in Article I, section 8, which reads "Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." [uspto.gov]

    The Constitution _only_ grants power to congress to establish patents for the promotion of the progress of science and useful arts. As far as I'm concerned, it is outside constitutional allowances for the government to enforce patents for other purposes, like protecting financial interests of companies that do not promote the progress of science and useful arts.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maroberts (15852)
      You're taking a very narrow view.

      The Constitution is effectively saying that it is within the powers of Congress to enact laws regarding patents and copyright, if Congress believes that by doing so it will promote the progress of science and useful arts.

      The fact there may be unintended consequences and side effects to such laws is not within the remit of the Constitution. Protecting financial interests of patent holders, whether companies or individuals, however is a raison d'etre for patents, since by maki
      • You are reading that wrong. The phrase "The Congress shall have power ... to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" is answering the what and how, not the why and what.

        What can they do?
        They can "promote the progress of science and useful arts."
        How can they do that or by what means are they authorized to do that (since the document is stating the powers the the people are delegat
      • The fact there may be unintended consequences and side effects to such laws is not within the remit of the Constitution.

        I do agree with this. However, when Congress is aware that these unintended consequences and side effects are becoming the norm (see also the article a few days ago saying patents are no longer profitable across most industries), there should be a call to reform. Yes, there is some reform in the way of whether or not patents that are either obvious or too abstract are slipping through,

        • by maroberts (15852)
          The constitution is saying that Congress is free to provide an incentive for inventors to publish their inventions by giving them a patent in return. A patent is effectively a monopoly on production/ licensing that invention for a period of time in order to make a financial gain.

          The reason that Congress gives out patents is to progress science and the useful arts. The reasons that inventors want them is an opportunity to benefit financially. As far as I know you can't have one without the other.

          I agree that
  • by wamerocity (1106155) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @11:30PM (#20029235) Journal
    that people like this have continued to ruin this market.

    Somehow, somewhere, patent trolls have lost their way. They seem to have forgotten what trolling means, what stifling innovation meant, what shitting-on-the-little guy was all about. It's not just about making a patent that you can sue and make money offer, and about sticking it to every one else who found a way to actually make that profitable...

    I swear, it's really a damn shame...

  • ...Amazon's one-click shopping. I wonder what ever happened to that.
  • by Brickwall (985910) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @11:44PM (#20029307)
    Common sense and judicial decisions regarding patent trolls are like matter and anti-matter; they can't exist in the same universe.
  • Buy It Now, when it was introduced years ago, marked the beginning of the slow and painful death of ebay as THE auction site on the internet. Now it's all a bunch of buy-it-now crap from fronting retailers, the real people are all gone.

    Fuck Buy It Now. It's not worth the patent it's written on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      Buy It Now, when it was introduced years ago, marked the beginning of the slow and painful death of ebay as THE auction site on the internet. Now it's all a bunch of buy-it-now crap from fronting retailers, the real people are all gone.

      Please clarify. It just means that Ebay is a hybrid auctioneer and store hoster.
             
      • by dynamo (6127)
        Sure.

        Back before buy-it-now, it was an online swap meet where normal people could buy and sell stuff.
        Now, the "store hoster" part has greedily taken over and it's nearly impossible to find a decent selection of used or weird stuff.

        Now, with buy-it-now in place, it's basically amazon.

        Disclaimer: I don't even like reserve prices.
      • by toddestan (632714)
        Please clarify. It just means that Ebay is a hybrid auctioneer and store hoster.

        Anyone who's been on eBay for a long time surely has noticed how the community has changed over the years. It used to be a place where regular people could bid on other regular people's stuff in an auction format, or put their stuff up for auction themselves. It was like a giant swap meet or garage sale - there were very few of the professional sellers back then - almost no one was making a living doing eBay, it was something
    • About the only things I bother with on eBay these days are Buy It Now. Their auction system is so fundamentally flawed that it's not worth bothering with.
  • Buy it now. Hey, sounds like something I do at a store everyday. I walk in, look around, pick an item, pay, and it's mine.

    Patenting a method to do the same thing online is bullshit. There should be no patents on methods of paying for something. In person, online, either way, you're buying it now.
    • It's even closer than you might think, since (at least, under UK law) the marked price is just an invitation to trade, so you can still make a bid that is lower than it. In large chain stores, there might be very few people who are allowed to accept lower bids, but in smaller shops you can often get a bargain by bidding rather than accepting the buy it now price.
  • I like how everyone has ignored that this little ass nothing company still managed to suck $25 million out of Ebay. The MercExchange people were stupid. They should have started their own auction site at the very least and then waited a few years and THEN cried foul. The judge saw that the company technically did nothing and saw no reason to stop eBay from using the patent, as MercExchange certainly was not using it. Oh, and fuck FeeBay. They had one of the best things going, but they shat upon their s
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      I think I am going to patent how to run an organization evily and then sue paypal for stealing my business model.

      Microsoft has prior art.
           
  • MercExchange has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition, as MercExchange appears to possess none of these

    Yeah, so? That's what the patent system provides for. Sure, lots of reasonable people think it's broken, but judicial selective-enforcement isn't really the way those things get fixed.

    If you think it's unconstitutional, go for the gusto. If not, what's with this "I'm not re

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