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U.S. Supreme Court Hears eBay Case Wednesday 184

siddesu wrote to mention an article on CNN Money about the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court patent suit involving eBay. We've previously mentioned the case. The SCOTUS will hear opening arguments on Wednesday, March 29th. From the article: "Lawyers for eBay and small e-commerce company MercExchange will square off over whether eBay should be barred from using its popular 'Buy it Now' feature, which infringes on two MercExchange patents. The case is being closely watched to see if the high court will scale back the right of patent holders to get an injunction barring infringers from using their technologies. Software companies complain they can be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents while drugmakers oppose any weakening of patent rights, which they say would chill their investment in new medicines."
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U.S. Supreme Court Hears eBay Case Wednesday

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  • by ExE122 ( 954104 ) * on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:24AM (#15010307) Homepage Journal

    Lobbying efforts center on legislation being drafted by Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas who chairs a key House subcommittee.

    Ironically, Lamar Smith is available on ebay [ebay.com] with "Buy It Now" options. I'm surprised Abramoff hasn't bought out the whole lot.

    --
    "Man Bites Dog
    Then Bites Self"
    • I'm surprised a nigerian scammer hasn't already clicked the "buy it now" option and attempted to pay with a forged paypal email that doesn't even have the right return email address.

      It's happened to me four times in the last six days.
  • by _am99_ ( 445916 ) * on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:25AM (#15010322)
    Here is a patent that doesn't require an EE degree to see that it is
    ridiculous. I hope these cases keep coming and coming so political
    pressure mounts to reform a backwards intellectual property system.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Basically the whole story is the usual tug of war that every society has to endure.

      "Software companies complain they can be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents while drugmakers oppose any weakening of patent rights, which they say would chill their investment in new medicines."

      Validity of the patent isn't what's being questioned, but extent of punishment.
      • "Software companies complain they can be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents while drugmakers oppose any weakening of patent rights, which they say would chill their investment in new medicines."

        This is because patents work for drugs, but not for software.

        For a Drug manufacturer who spends 5 years and $10Million to bring a single drug to market (not to mention the millions more spent on dead ends), spending 250K on a patent dispute is just an annoying part of business... And by the time t

    • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:04AM (#15010622)
      Personally, I hope that the relevant people here in the EU are taking note, and that this lends more weight to the anti-software patents campaigners' message.

      No offence, but I suspect that the US is going to have to seriously screw itself over on this issue in order to save the rest of the world from doing the same.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Here is a patent that doesn't require an EE degree to see that it is ridiculous."

      True. Instead, it requires a trial judge, an appellate panel of three judges, an appeals court of approximately a dozen judges (presumably eBay requested a rehearing en banc), and the entire eBay legal team to fail to show/rule that the patent is invalid. What are the odds that not one of these people had an EE/comp sci degree?

      Every single one of those people has studied patent law extensively. Have you? Can you prove that
      • He did not say that the patent is invalid or illegal, he said it was ridiculous.

        What should be on trial here is not this specific patent, but the state in which our patent system currently is. The fact that this case is likely to appear ridiculous to a common citizen with no technical or legal background helps make the case for patent reform, and hopefully serves as a dire warning to the legislature of any other nation currently considering implementing software and business process patents.

        • What should be on trial here is not this specific patent, but the state in which our patent system currently is.

          That's exactly what's happening, to a degree. The patent was already found to be valid. The only question presented to the Supreme Court is:

          Whether the Federal Circuit erred in setting forth a general rule in patent cases that a district court must, absent exceptional circumstances, issue a permanent injunction after a finding of infringement.

          You can get more background by reading the low

        • What should be on trial here is not this specific patent, but the state in which our patent system currently is. The fact that this case is likely to appear ridiculous to a common citizen with no technical or legal background helps make the case for patent reform, and hopefully serves as a dire warning to the legislature of any other nation currently considering implementing software and business process patents.

          The last time this was posted on slashdot, people did not get this point. A google search [google.com] on th
      • True. Instead, it requires a trial judge, an appellate panel of three judges, an appeals court of approximately a dozen judges (presumably eBay requested a rehearing en banc), and the entire eBay legal team to fail to show/rule that the patent is invalid. What are the odds that not one of these people had an EE/comp sci degree?

        Better than average.

        These are honest questions.

        No, they aren't; they're an attempt to stifle dissent. They boil down to "trust the system or you're an arrogant ass". The syst



      • Every single one of those people has studied patent law extensively. Have you? Can you prove that the patent is invalid, and if so, why haven't you been hired by eBay or their counsel?... You appear to believe that everybody involved in this case is an idiot, ... Yet instead of posting a comprehensible explanation, you've chosen to leap headfirst into the rabble

        I am not saying that the patent is invalid; I am saying the patent law that allows patenting of business practises (and software models) is ridiculu
      • . . . . .and the entire eBay legal team to fail to show/rule that the patent is invalid.

        Er, No. If this is the patent that I think it is, it's still in the preliminary stages. On an application for a preliminary injunction, the trial judge looked at things and said "All this company wants is money, the patent looks a bit shaky, the defendant is quite capable of paying any award and issuing an injunction would be quite disruptive, so I'm not going to issue an injunction.

        The appeals court fired back

    • I do not think the supreme court is not reviewing the validity of the patent. I believe the issue is with using the injunction as a tool in patent prosecution. It is an important issue. The injunction is what causes people to pay up and settle, otherwise they keep on infringing until the end of the case.
  • by Douglas Simmons ( 628988 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:26AM (#15010326) Homepage
    It should not be forgotten when convenient that the Supreme Court's role is limited to combing through the constitutionality of a past ruling. Roe v Wade being the "Law of the Land" is a misnomer. In this case, it seems that one part of the government established by the legislature made a ridiculous choice that doesn't pass the laugh test, but that's the legislature's job to fix, not the Court's.
    • Spot on comment. However, most people don't think like that. If they agree with a decision's results, they like the decision. It could use horrible logic and be based on faulty non-Constitutional reasoning, but many wouldn't care.
    • IANAL and I am only familiar with this proceding from the little tidbits read/seen in mainstream media, but I was of the belief that the case being presented was not about guilt, or copyright, but about clarification of when injunctions are exceptable. Is it lawful for a company to file for an injuction on another company's business practices when the underlying copyright is under contest?

      -Rick
      • IANAL either, but it seems that these are situations that an escrow account would be a good fit for. If eBay had to put a reasonable licensing fees in escrow until the case is settled and MercExchange had to pony up a reasonable cost-of-lost-opertunity on the money eBay put in; I bet the case wouldn't be dragging ass through the court system.
    • by faceword ( 635817 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:03AM (#15010615) Homepage
      It should not be forgotten when convenient that the Supreme Court's role is limited to combing through the constitutionality of a past ruling....that's the legislature's job to fix, not the Court's.

      That is not completely accurate. The Supreme Court does not merely pass on the consitutionality of legislation; it also gets the final word in interpreting existing legislation. In this case, the constitutionality of the legislation is not at issue. What is at issue is the interpretation of existing legislation. Specifically, the arugment is what standard should be used when deciding whether to grant a patent holder an injunction. The statute provides that courts "may" grant injunctions "in accordance with principles of equity" and "on such terms as they deem reasonable." 35 U.S.C. 283. Over the past 20 years, the Federal Circuit, which has appellate authority in patent cases, has interpreted this clause to mean that injunctions should be granted almost automatically once infringement has been established (with some exceptions for when safety is at issue). One hopes that the Supreme Court will interpret the clause to mean that District Court has discretion to issue an injunction, but only on a showing that an injunction is equitable.

      Thus, for example, a company like RIM probably wouldn't be shut down by a patent troll, even on a finding infringement. Instead RIM would just have to pay a court ordered fine/licence to the troll.

    • Couldn't they find that the patent and copyright laws, as implemented by the other branches of government, or individual patents for that matter, are not constitutional because they don't meet the aims set out in the US constitution? Not that I believe for an instant that they would decide so...
      • Couldn't they find that the patent and copyright laws, as implemented by the other branches of government, or individual patents for that matter, are not constitutional because they don't meet the aims set out in the US constitution? Not that I believe for an instant that they would decide so...

        Not really, no. In American jurisprudence there is a presumption of the competence of the legislature for most classes of cases; all the government must show is that the legislation bears some rational relation to a

        • In American jurisprudence there is a presumption of the competence of the legislature for most classes of cases ... a legislative schema that exists under that delegated power need not actually 'work'

          On the contrary, while courts generally defer to the legislature on intent, they do look at whether the stated purpose of a statute is manifested in reality. A law that does not "work" may well be unconstitutional for the obvious reason that Congress is abdicating a constitutional requirement to provide for som
          • That's why I pointedly said 'most classes of cases'. In Brown, the court was using a higher standard of scrutiny because of the suspect class, e.g. race, involved. The court uses a higher standard of scrutiny when it is no longer reasonable in the broadest possible sense to assume legislative competence and when the subject matter provokes a high natural likelihood of infringing constitutional guarantees, such as (in Brown and all subsequent civil rights cases) when basically all-white legislatures are ma
      • The Supreme Court could find that the President has to wear a hat on Tuesdays and invite all patent holders to lunch. They can find whatever they like, though they have no way of enforcing decisions. If they say that runny cheese is unconstitutional, then it is.

        So yes, they could certainly find that the implementation of the Patent system is unconstitutional and direct Congress to fix it.
    • Roe v Wade being the "Law of the Land" is a misnomer

      Well yea, especially since the law of the land is the Constitution.
    • It should not be forgotten when convenient that the Supreme Court's role is limited to combing through the constitutionality of a past ruling.

      Nonsense. False. Inaccurate. Mistaken. Did I mention that it is also wrong?

      Article III vests the judicial power of the United States in one supreme Court, and such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The power extends to all cases in law and equity. The Supreme court has original jurisdiction (to try cases) in rare and obs
  • Where will it end? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:28AM (#15010336) Homepage
    Blackberry, Microsoft, Ebay, Tivo, Google... so when does it stop encouraging innovation, and start stifling it? Is anybody in the US government, or the patent office actually paying attention to these suits, or do they see this as everything working fine? I now that in the past, patents were not considered quite so important, just need to look at the big patent sharing agreements between the large computer companies like IBM, AMD, Intel. Maybe the view has shifted, and it has become acceptable to shut a business down over patents? (or at least try to)
    • If you don't have a business of your own there is no benefit from cross licencing. If you have a business that actually does useful stuff you are at risk of infringing other people's patents. Far better to just come up with ideas and sue people. Better yet, just buy people's unused ideas and sue people.

      Not that cross licencing is wonderful either. It's just a way to artificially keep smaller more efficient players out of your nicely carved up market.
  • by ursabear ( 818651 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:31AM (#15010366) Homepage Journal
    There HAS to be a way for the courts to define and address the difference between WELL DUH! lawsuits (like "patenting" an immediate purchase button, or cross-category searches) and important lawsuits that protect folks that have invested years and years of work and research (and perhaps tons of money) in creating a complex drug or product.

    THERE HAS to be a way to define this and adjudicate accordingly. I'm fully aware that there are gray-area patents, but some things just shouldn't be patented.
    • There are. You can have a situation where you can't sue unless you case is sort of pre-vetted by a judge. You see this in Europe and it would definitely be worth considering for the US. Incidentally you also have it at the criminal level.
    • The only issue before the Supreme Court is when should a patent holder be entitled to an injunction against an infringer. Courts have already determined (several times) that MercExchange's patent is valid and that eBay infringed the patent. Validity (i.e. is MercExchange's "invention" actually an invention?) will not and cannot be considered by the Supreme Court because it is not the issue being appealed.

      Instead, the Court will determine if an injunction should automatically issue once infringement i

  • You don't say. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:32AM (#15010372) Homepage Journal
    "Software companies complain they can be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents while drugmakers oppose any weakening of patent rights, which they say would chill their investment in new medicines."

    Perhaps that's because, as we have been saying for years, patents on software impede innovation whereas patents increase (or so I am imformed - I don't work in the industry) innovation in the drugs industry.

    Patents on software make as much sense as patents on books or music. Get rid of them now before they give patents in general a bad name.

    • Re:You don't say. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AviLazar ( 741826 )
      No, that is wrong - that is 100% wrong. Patents on software is fine - it is the ridiculous patents on software that is not fine...things such as "Clicking on an electronic button to quicken a process" is dumb - patenting say...oh I don't know World of WarCraft is not dumb. To relate it to your drug question....some of these ridiculous patent suits (i.e. "clicking on an electronic button...") could fall into the same as patenting "a process in which a liquid is heated in a clear container and poured into a
      • Patents are needed and useful. When a company spends millions (if not billions) researching an idea they need a fair opportunity to recoup their costs.

        In the context of software this is simply not true. There is no evidence that is is true and lots of evidence that patents on software are hindering competition.

        If people cannot compete on their own merit without being granted a monopoly on their software ideas then they should find another business. There are many many people queueing up to replace them who
        • In the context of software this is simply not true. There is no evidence that is is true and lots of evidence that patents on software are hindering competition.

          There is no evidence that companies spend money - and lots of it - in R&D when creating different software products? There is no evidence that MS spends money creating Windows? There is no evidence that Blizzard spent money on WoW?
          • There is no evidence that companies spend money - and lots of it - in R&D when creating different software products? There is no evidence that MS spends money creating Windows? There is no evidence that Blizzard spent money on WoW?

            No, there's no evidence that the availability of patent protection had anything to do with the motivation to finance development. The fact that you keep bringing up World of Warcraft illustrates your ignorance. Name a patent that Blizzard has on any part of WoW.

          • "There is no evidence that MS spends money creating Windows?"

            Microsoft spends money creating Windows and they get protection for that investment in the form of copyright. What they do not do is research unique solutions to specific problems that are then so obvious to the outside user that the user can copy the solution without infringing copyright.

            How pharmaceutical companies differ from software:

            1. Software does not require ten years of testing by the FDA before it can be used. This is the single large
      • No, I am quite sure it is you who is 100% wrong. Patents on software is very much not fine. In every case I can think of, it's actually quite absurd. nosoftwarepatents.com [nosoftwarepatents.com] outlines the issue well (read the dangers of software patents [nosoftwarepatents.com] in particular).

        The problem with software patents is that they are incredibly restrictive in an industry that requires freedom and rapid innovation. As pointed out on the page I linked to, something that was innovative in the early days of modern computing would still be p
      • patenting say...oh I don't know World of WarCraft is not dumb.


        A software product like WoW doesn't need protection using patents. It already has protection, a little thing called copyright.

    • Patents on software make as much sense as patents on books or music. Get rid of them now before they give patents in general a bad name.

      It's too late for that. I shared your position, until I realized that some of the arguments against software patents are true for many other kinds of patents as well. Society should reexamine the goals of the patent system and determine if they are being achieved by the current implementation. Are there any patent success stories? How do they compare in number and impa

    • Re:You don't say. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:28AM (#15010784)
      "Perhaps that's because, as we have been saying for years, patents on software impede innovation whereas patents increase (or so I am imformed - I don't work in the industry) innovation in the drugs industry."

      My dad IS in the drugs industry (or more specifically, in immunology research), and to hear him tell it, the situation's just as bad there as it is with software. There are tons of companies that do nothing but buy up patents and sue anybody who comes out with a new drug, hoping to get a share of the profit.

      In fact, the situation might be WORSE for medical research, because researchers often have to curtail their research in order to avoid using patented chemicals or techniques. Everything has to be filtered through a lawyer.
    • If drug patents were quite as ridiculous as some of these software patents, somebody would have patented 'cold medicine', 'leg medicine', 'head medicine', etc and sat on the patent to get rich. At least the drugs are specific; these software patents are unreasonably vague.
  • Software vs. Drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deanj ( 519759 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:33AM (#15010382)
    Now, I'm the last guy that thinks drug companies are "nice guys" in the prices they charge, but in patent cases, I have to side with them.

    They spend MILLIONS of dollars developing drugs. At least they have some right to patent what they created, because they actually created something. I'm not going into whether they SHOULD or not. That's what the law is right now, and it should probably be changed. I'm getting off track here.

    Software companies with "patents" like these have spent little or no time "developing" anything. I mean..."One click"? "Buy It Now"? That's what you get when you have marketing people patenting things.

    Geesh.
    • I, for one, am happy for marketers. Before this "reform," they would probably never have the empowering experience of seeing their names on patents. Now, they get to patent things all the time; patents aren't restricted to scientists, engineers, and other inventors anymore. Isn't that a good thing?
    • I have a brother who works at a major drug company. They don't spend millions on developing new drugs, they spend billions.
      • "Why spend Billions when you can spend... Millions?"

        Back on topic, I concur. My company does the same.
      • I don't see how much they spend is relevant to the worth of the patent. It is just an indication of the size of the business opportunity to be gained by getting there first. They also make billions because of the patents they have been granted.

        I don't believe for one minute that they are concerned about the level of investment in medical research. They are concerned about the level of profit to be gained from that investment in medical research. A legitimate concern for a business, and an important one in a
        • Yes but nobody would invest billions unless there was high probability of making it back. That's why the chemical and engineering industries are the only two industries that should be allowed patents. Everyone else is perfectly capable of making money without securing unecessary monopolies.

          Personally I think everyone else can have a different kind of patent where you are forced to allow others to use your idea, but with royalties paid to you. But patents like "Buy now" can fuck off and screw themselves or i
        • I don't believe for one minute that they are concerned about the level of investment in medical research.

          But the drug companies don't do "medical" research. They do "drug" research. They care about the disease just enough to know how to treat it. They spend nothing on trying to cure disease. If they were to cure it, they couldn't profit from it. They just want to know how to treat it. They aren't in a field that is altruistic. They are just as money grubbing as Microsoft, or Altria (Philip Morris),
        • Not to mention the fact that the US Government (in other words the US people) invests BILLIONS every year to help develop these drugs. The Government (mostly through the NIH but other departments as well) funds the majority of basic research that enables companies to develop new drugs. Not to mention almost all PhDs (in biology research, at least) have been fully funded by the government during training. This allows drug companies to hire very highly-trained workers without investing any time or money in
    • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:18AM (#15010702) Homepage Journal
      Cure a man - you get to eat a fish today.
      Help a man cope with his symptoms - you get fish for life.

      fuck the pharms

      • by RexRhino ( 769423 )
        How do you expect new drugs to be developed without the pharms? I know you probably feel it is wrong to profit off of the needs of others, but what is your proposed model for drug development?
        • lose the patents & let the market decide

          • lose the patents & let the market decide

            You've got to be shitting me. I work at a pharma company that has a handful of compounds in phase 1 and 2 trials, but nothing on the market. We've been through millions of dollars to get this far. If there weren't any patents, we'd be producing the competitors' compounds and trying to undercut them, not testing dozens of compounds each week in the hope of finding something better. Developing drugs is insanely expensive, and it's not going to happen without th

            • If pharmacutical companies are spending so much that the entire company would cease to exist due to losing the ability to hold onto patents, then perhaps they should cut costs and find cheaper ways of doing the same thing. I also wonder how much of that high cost goes to patent lawyers and other people who wouldn't personally make money with the current patent system. Let's not forget the huge amount spent on marketing (TV, etc) and sales (50% of the people in the waiting room at my doctor's office are pret
              • If pharmacutical companies are spending so much that the entire company would cease to exist due to losing the ability to hold onto patents, then perhaps they should cut costs and find cheaper ways of doing the same thing.

                I work with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment each day. So will any other person in a biotech lab. Why do we pay so much money on equipment? Because, believe it or not, it costs less in the end to not pay for all the man-hours. When your staff is full of PhDs and MDs (some peo

                • Thanks for the information, I hope the slight snarkiness isn't there just because someone who has to pay for medication dared ask why there seem to be some interesting excesses in a broken system.
                  • I also have to pay for meds, so I understand the "WTF" aspect of drug costs, especially when paying for them out of pocket (that was a nasty shock when they forgot to factor in my health insurance).

                    I just get somewhat annoyed when people who aren't in biotech want to know why we don't have cures for cancer/HIV/the common cold, and why we can't get them out faster and cheaper.

                    That said, the salaries of CEOs of the successful companies are absolutely insane.
      • Do nothing to help a man, and whine about those who do - you get to demand your fair share of fish caught by others!

  • by nnxion ( 964168 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:35AM (#15010391)
    From the article:
    Software companies complain they can be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents while drugmakers oppose any weakening of patent rights, which they say would chill their investment in new medicines.

    I understand how drugmakers feel, but why should those rules affect the patents of software. Software is as it says "soft", drugs is "hard". A different set of patent rules should be applied in my opinion.
  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:37AM (#15010400) Homepage
    infringed on two e-commerce patents that MercExchange said were key to eBay's "Buy it Now" feature

    How about striking down this lower court ruling

    # 1998 The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in State Street Bank v. Signature Financial.[46] holds that there is no prohibition in U.S. law on patents for business methods as long as they are new, useful and non-obvious.

    Considering that business methods are NOT new, useful and non-obvious its time to reverse this error in one judge's career sign-off opinion.
  • Control and power (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quokkapox ( 847798 ) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:50AM (#15010510)
    The current copyright and patent regime is simply all about the rich and powerful maintaining control and power over the general public, which suddenly has gained access to a new and better communications medium (the Internet) which, if allowed to function unfettered, democratizes society and indeed threatens their status quo.

    The only way for the proles to fight patents and copyrights is to ignore them. This is, of course, impossible if there are only a few printing presses or factories that exist. But now there are more than a billion printing presses (everyone can publish and discuss ideas on the web); there are a probably 500 million CD burners in the world (wild guess) to pass around music and video, and we can even do better than that just by sharing data directly over the net.

    The Internet is like the next evolution of the printing press. Gutenberg's machine took away the power of the learned few to disseminate information. The Internet represents the natural evolution of that capability, and more.

    The next step will be the dissemination of the ability to manufacture at the molecular level in your house, and then on your desktop. If you don't believe that's going to happen, consider the fact that anyone in the world with a net connection can read this posting seconds after I submit it, and how wildly that would blow your mind if you lived at the time of the invention of the printing press.

    This temporary nonsense with patents and copyrights will be just that, temporary.

    • I agree. When a wealthy internet behemoth like MercExchange tramples the rights of a poor, unknown startup like eBay, someone has got to stand up and do something. Jesus Himself would have been sued for violating the copyrights of Old Testament prophets.

      Too bad we don't believe it's okay to use military force to overthrow an oppressive government that violates the rights of the poor. I've been ignoring copyrights for years, and all I have to show for it is a bunch of free music.

      suggested mod to the s

  • by Whammy666 ( 589169 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:50AM (#15010512) Homepage
    I was under the impression that patents were only supposed to be issued to innovative and original developments in technology. "Buy It Now" is not technology. It's a sales gimmick. Gimmicks should not be patentable. The patent system in the US is seriously broken. It seems that the patent office isn't even bothering to review patents anymore. They're just handing them out like tissues.

    They really need to tighten the rules over what is patentable. Sales gimmicks, business plans, mother nature, etc. should not even be considered. There should also be a rule similar to trademark law for termination of patent rights for non-enforcement to prevent crap similar to the JPEG nonsense from popping up out of nowhere.
    • by Secrity ( 742221 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:23AM (#15010738)
      That pretty much sums it up. In addition to the USPTO not properly screening patent applications, I think that much of the problem is that judges and lawmakers do not understand today's technology. Judges try to bend old world legal judgements to fit new technology and lawmakers rely on corporations to write the laws regarding new technology. Interesting thing is that the corporations who write the laws can end up getting bit on the ass because somebody else can find a judge who doesn't understand the new law. Some of the patents sound like joke RFC's, see United States Patent 6368227, "Method of swinging on a swing"
    • Have you actually read the patent? Maybe there is more to it.
      • Have you actually read the patent? Maybe there is more to it.

        I've read the whole ridiculous, tedious patent. No, there really isn't any more to it. It's a patent on buy it now, on a computer, with a database. It's absurd.

    • The scope of patents is actually "the useful arts" Arts (in 18th century parliance) aren't just aesthetic works like painting and music. The term actually means a 'way of doing something'. This is found in Article 1 Secion 8 of the U.S. Consitution:

      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;

      It's apparent that Thomas Jefferson had this understanding that patents can includ

  • Surely the concept of 'buy it now' is no different to going onto any online classifieds site and purchasing something. It's just a straightforward purchase then - so what makes this necessarily any different to your conventional single item purchase on (say) Amazon? Just because the goods are on an auction site?

    Me dost thing that the US patent system is patently mad...

    John
  • So today... (Score:4, Funny)

    by WisC ( 963341 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @10:56AM (#15010556)
    ... I went into a shop for a paper and some smokes, but the guy would not sell them to me cos he was scared of being sued for using "buy it now". I was a bit miffed at not getting a smoke and the news but its not all bad as the guy had a half smoked cigar and a paper from 3rd March 2003 going for one buck with only 2 days left, just hope I have some change left from my 5 bucks max bid.
  • Alot of times you see companies patent broad things, don't use them and then show up with a hand out but MercExchange looked to be trying to use their ideas, met with Ebay and then Ebay took their from ideas and ran with them.

    At least thats what I got from this article which is an interview with the guy who owns MercExchange

    http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y04/m09/i30/s0 1 [auctionbytes.com]

    • That doesn't mean that the patent dispute is warranted, nor does it mean that the patent is valid.

      This is a red herring tossed by MercExchange, whether or not they got EBay to sign an NDA or other use contract prior to the meeting, and whether or not EBay violated such a contract, is a question for a different lawsuit, not for this patent infringement suit.

      If the patents are determined to be obvious, then MercExchange's course of action would be to sue under breach of contract. If they didn't get EBay
  • by mary_will_grow ( 466638 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:01PM (#15011014)
    ...while drugmakers oppose any weakening of patent rights, which they say would chill their investment in new medicines

    So, limiting Pfizer's ability to just sit on what it's already made, and profit for doing nothing further, is somehow supposed to _chill_ investment in new medicines? I would think that if you were no longer able to just sit on your patents, it would *enhance* competition and *increase* the need to innovate in order to stay profitable.

    OK Ayn Randian Bushites, let me make your argument for you so you dont need to: "But no one is going to want to innovate anything unless they can get patents".

    I'm not saying throw out the patent system, just fix it. Even if we cut the lifespan of drug company patents by something _dramatic_, you honestly think Pfizer is just gonna say, "OK, nevermind, we aren't gonna do this anymore." Give me a break.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:02PM (#15011025) Homepage
    This is no news to anyone I guess, so maybe I'll just get modded as redundant.

    I think one critical issue of patent reform should involve removing any patents whose novelty is linked to the media is uses. Consider "Buy it now." In the world of plastic money and paper receipts, this patent would be laughed out of the office. In a word, it's OBVIOUS. The fact that an item on an internet based sales site to me is irrelevant because the novelty lies in the medium being used. The medium is patentable, but should the WAY media is used really be patentable? If it should, then I'd like to patent driving down the road sideways. Heaven forbid someone create some form of cell-phone oriented sales/auction service and "Buy It Now" gets patented again because the medium is "wireless."

    I'd really like to just be able to change the world, but I'd be more than satisfied if I could just change the ridiculous things going on with the patent world.
  • MercExchange(0): Seller will n0t respekt my intellectually property so I will sue! BUYER BEWARE! FFFFFFFFF---------!!!1!111! Do n0t buy from thiz seller!!!
  • I predict (Score:3, Insightful)

    by localman ( 111171 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @01:40PM (#15011748) Homepage
    I predict they'll do the same thing they did with copyright extention. They'll admit that it might be a bad law, but they'll uphold the law and tell us to go to Congress if we want it changed. I don't think they'll find the injunctions unconstitutional.

    Which I can respect, but is really a shame, as congress is so in-the-pocket they're just about useless in promoting anything that's for the common good over the corporate good.

    Hope I'm wrong!
  • The purpose of patents is to foster innovation - that is, to ensure that an investment in research and development will be paid off before an invention becomes available for all to create and sell. Seen in this light, wouldn't it make sense to allow patents only on those ideas that cost a bunch of money to develop? You could set a lower limit of, say, $1 million on development costs (with periodic adjustments for inflation), and make a company or inventor prove they had spent at least that much in developin

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