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eBay earns patent victory in U.S. high court
www.chinaview.cn 2006-05-16 16:36:11

The US Supreme court on Monday set aside a patent injunction against online auctioneer eBay Inc, ruling that a company found liable for patent infringement should not necessarily be forced to stop using the patented technology.
    BEIJING, May 16 (Xinhuanet) -- The US Supreme court on Monday set aside a patent injunction against online auctioneer eBay Inc, ruling that a company found liable for patent infringement should not necessarily be forced to stop using the patented technology.

    The high court unanimously vacated a federal court ruling in favor of MercExchange, a developer of e-commerce technology that sued eBay for patent infringement with its "Buy It Now" feature.

   The case goes back to a trial judge to decide on the appropriate remedy for eBay's patent infringement. Though an injunction still is possible, the decision is considered a victory for big tech companies, which said they are under siege from small patent owners who use the threat of court orders to seek high licensing fees.

    But the court also handed a small victory to challenger MercExchange: it moved to preserve the rights of patent holders, rejecting a lower court's holding that they can forfeit their right to an injunction if they have agreed to license out their technology to others or are not using it to make a product themselves.

    MercExchange issued a statement saying it was confident that the district court would impose an injunction on eBay "when it fairly applies the traditional principles of equity set forth in the Supreme Court's opinion ..."

    eBay praised the Supreme Court ruling and expressed confidence the lower court would rule in its favor.

    A jury found that eBay's "Buy It Now" service, which lets customers buy products at a set price instead of bidding in an auction, infringed a software patent owned by MercExchange LLC. A trial judge rejected a bid by MercExchange to force eBay to stop using the software.

    The Federal Circuit then reversed that ruling, saying shutdown orders should be denied only in rare cases, such as when an invention is needed to protect public.   Enditem

    (Agencies)

Editor: Wang Yan
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