Judge rules against eBay in “But it now” lawsuit

A US district judge has penned the latest chapter in eBay’s long-standing patent infringement battle with MercExchange LLC. Since 2003, eBay has been fighting a jury’s decision that its Buy It Now feature infringes on two patents held by MercExchange, originally an auction site itself over a decade ago. eBay fought off an injunction earlier this year, but the judge’s ruling today orders eBay to pay $30 million to MercExchange, LLC.

This patent dispute hails all the way back to 2001 when licensing talks broke down between eBay and Tom Woolston, founder of MercExchange. Woolston promptly filed suit against eBay, fighting for an injunction to stop the service from using the feature. A US District Court sided with MercExchange in 2003, but eBay’s appeals eventually escalated the case up to the Supreme Court, where the focus shifted and subsequently garnered the attention of IP lawyers in everything from the software industry to the pharmaceutical business. (link)


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