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
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