Tuesday, March 28, 2006
eBay: The auction gavel is a court gavel this week.
The Supreme Court will hear opening arguments tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29th 2006).
Attorneys for eBay and the small e-commerce company MercExchange will meet and debate whether eBay should cease usage of the 'Buy it Now' feature. MercExchange claims it holds two patents on this "technology".
The case is being closely watched to see what the court system can do for patent holders to get an injunction against infringing parties from using their technologies.
Software companies contend that they may be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents. Drug companies oppose the weakening of patent rights ... claiming investment in new medicines and drug research would dry up.
This ruling will also be of importance to Jeff Bezos (AMAZON.COM founder & CEO) as he owns hundreds of patents concerning methodology for ecommerce ... including ONE CLICK BUYING.
Patents are at a unique point in history where ideas, thoughts, commonalities of everyday living, and obvious structure of common activities are being allowed by the US Patent System (and other patent repositories worldwide).
The concept of 'Buy It Now' is simple and in my mind is common thought ... I want it now, click, end the auction, click, pay for the auction.
I own 3 patents and I am very much in favor of a patent system ... but I play by the rules of rational thought. My patents are not for ideas, but for physical products ... and in turn a methodology describing the uniqueness of the idea and it's use.
Whole companies are being formed (or in some cases dissolved into) intellectual property holders ... companies that don't physically produce or associate with product or trademark & copyright, but exist solely to litigate with patent. Many opponents on the website slashdot claim SCO is such a company.
SCO claims to own portions of the Linux operating system (and it's underlying UNIX codebase) and is battling IBM and others in a lengthy court battle. The "OS components" that SCO claims they own are natural core extensions of the OS that ANY programmer would have to include. The components are more of an idea. Almost like being able to patent 2+2=4. SCO doesn't own an interface, they don't own a GUI, they don't own a unique functionality. They were granted a patent for a common thought or extension of mathematical thought.
MercExchange seems to be the same way ... granted a patent for nothing more than a common thought.