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Sunday, 5 March 2006


CNet reports on a big patent cases that has far-reaching consequences for US patent infringers (and no, it’s not the BlackBerry case). This time eBay is in the dock. A federal jury found that eBay’s ‘buy it now' feature, which allows sellers to fix a price that they will accept for their goods, even before the auction has run its course, infringed two patents owned by MercExchange. The case is due before the Supreme Court on 29 March, but infringement is not an issue. Instead the question is whether a permanent final injunction should automatically be granted in infringement cases, or if instead the public interest and irreparable harm that the defendant would suffer should be weighed against the patentee’s rights. eBay’s argument is that automatic injunctions would be disastrous for their business and the businesses of may other companies and that any harm suffered by the defendants can be made good by money.

The IPKat has a good deal of sympathy for this approach. He wonders whether many of the small patent owners would have had any chance of realising anything like the returns that they stand to realise through the award of damages. Being infringed could be the best thing that ever happened to them.

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