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Online Auctions Patented, eBay Sued

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the where-will-I-get-old-d&d-books dept.

Patents 614

mattfusf writes "This article from News.com talks about a guy who has filed a lawsuit against eBay for patent infringment. Patent 5,845,265 covers a "method..for creating a computerized market for used and collectible goods""

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614 comments

MY FINGER SMELLS LIKE CAT!!! (-1, Offtopic)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199563)

I was just testing the temperature of her pee.

gotta get it :-) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199567)

FP for the CLIT
(Adolf Hitroll)

Please (1, Funny)

Wiseazz (267052) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199570)

While everything's getting patented, I'm going to go take out a patent for sex, smoking, and eating. That should be a little more profitable than online auctions.

Re:Please (0, Flamebait)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199592)

While everything's getting patented, I'm going to go take out a patent for sex, smoking, and eating. That should be a little more profitable than online auctions.

If you invented any of those, that's very clever.

However, since I find that unlikely, you've just wasted 10 seconds of your pitiful life posting such a lame comment.

Re:Please (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199653)

You sound very bitter. Haven't had sex recently? Fantasize about your mother much?

Re:Please (2)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199596)

Screw it, patent breathing...

quicker return, everyone can be sued immediately...

Re:Please (2)

forged (206127) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199652)

Erhmm, heard of "prior art" ;)

Re:Please (0)

Feyr (449684) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199712)

considering someone patented the wheel... it's not that dumb of an idea if you want my advice

Re:Please (1)

innerlimit (593217) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199736)

eBay should haul ass to some off shore country with no liability to american patents...



_____

Sig(pat. pending)

Re:Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199740)

How fucking cool would it be to own smoking.

m"Hey baby"

w"So what do you do?"

m"I own smoking and sex, you owe me royalties for that pack you've finished, but I'll let it go if you commit a further infringement tronight"

You know (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199572)

Thomas Woolston could just auction those patents off on eBay. He'll make a killing and save on lawyer fees.

One more ... (3, Insightful)

Koyaanisqatsi (581196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199574)

And can you imagine "what if" someone had a patent on *normal* auctions?

This whole issue of patents for "doing things with computers" is getting a bit out of hand. I'll be curious to see the outcome of this.

Re:One more ... (3, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199608)

The outcome will most likely be that eBay pays an undisclosed amount in a settlement. Frankly, from reading the article, this patent-filing jackass is yet another example of a lawyer abusing the system, rather then using it. At least one of his patents should not have been granted, probably all three mentioned.

And in his filing against Priceline, it's pretty obvious that they were already engaged in that business model before he filed the patent.

Hopefully, however, common sense in the judge will reign, and he will not only throw out any case against eBay, but hit this lawyer with extremely large financial sanctions and strip him of his license to practice law.

Kierthos

Re:One more ... (2, Funny)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199630)

I think you hit the nail on the head. I'm going to patent "a process by which you use a computer to perform a standard task."

I'll make billions.

Obviousness (5, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199675)

The trust issue is the key to the online patent, not the auction.

Online auctions are obvious, a trustworthy auction is the innovation.

Patent for On-Line Auctions (2, Insightful)

dpme (594072) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199578)

This one is interesting, since it does not seem, on the face of it, to be one of those patent squatters-key in this is that EBay approached the patent holder to try and buy the patent (as opposed to one of those out of the blue lawyer letters asking for millions) Will be interesting to see where this goes-DP

This might actually help... (4, Insightful)

syd02 (595787) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199583)

This might actually help in the effort to get people to rethink the role of the patent office in the digital era. I welcome this nonsense...the higher the profile (eBay!), the greater the impact.

What's that saying? The worse the better?

Re:This might actually help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199626)

Or they might just cave in and bend to the will of the fuckhead patent office. Although in this particular case, the general American rule of law (he who has more money wins, period) eBay will probably smack this guy down.

Besides, after reading the article it is apparent that this guy is merely into the patent thing to make money off other people's REAL work. I mean, shit, he started lawsuits against multiple websites after obtaining his patents. How obvious is that evidence? I say bankrupt his ass and exile him to Siberia.

The plural of "Auction" is not "Auctions" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199584)

It's Auctionii

Re:The plural of "Auction" is not "Auctions" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199692)

dumbfuck, it would be "auctionae"

Re:The plural of "Auction" is not "Auctions" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199718)

I thought it was "Auctionen"? "Oxen", "Boxen", "Auctionen"

Defense of patents (1, Insightful)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199585)

IANAL, but as I understand it, you must make an effort to defend any patent you are issued within a reasonable timeframe or the patent can be contested. Unless this guy lives under a rock, he should have been aware many years ago of eBay and other online commerce sites.

Re:Defense of patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199597)

I think you have your patents and your trademarks
mixed up.

Re:Defense of patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199602)

Just curious.. What does IANAL mean? I'm Anal? Please clarify..

IANAL (2)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199709)

I
Am
Not
A
Lawyer


Click here [internet-handbooks.co.uk] for a glossary of these "net" terms.

Re:Defense of patents (4, Informative)

bluGill (862) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199614)

You are confusing patents and trademarks. You must defend your trademarks, or you will lose it. With a patent you can let infringment slide as long as you want, and so long as the patent hasn't expired still sue. Case in point: the gif patent

Re:Defense of patents (5, Informative)

bwt (68845) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199725)

It is true that a trademark must be defended or lost, but that does not imply there are no "snooze and lose" aspects to patents. In fact, the original poster is somewhat correct. The doctrine of laches [converium.com] . Patentees against whom the laches defense has been successfully invoked are barred from collecting only those damages that accrued prior to filing suit.

The defense contains two elements:
1) The patent holder delayed bringing suit and that delay was unreasonable and inexcusable; and
2) The alleged infringer suffered materially prejudicial harm from the delay.

The doctrine is supported by caselaw: A.C. Auckerman Company v. R.L. Chaides Construction Co., 960 F.2d 1020 (Fed. Cir. 1992), citing Lane & Bodley Co. v. Locke, 150 U.S. 193 (1893).

Re:Defense of patents (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199616)

Yes, you're right, YANAL. Neither am I, but that only applies to trademarks.

Re:Defense of patents (1)

Flabby Boohoo (606425) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199618)

Are you suggesting that it is ok to violate a patent in the hopes that no one would notice? That does not seem right to me... and the article does not have all the details in the case. Surely there is more to this that meets the eye.

Re:Defense of patents (2, Insightful)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199619)

That's false. It is trademarks you must defend. Patents one can sit on until someone else builds a market on your patent and then sue them. Not nice, but valid.

Re:Defense of patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199640)

No, you are referring to trademarks, not patents.

Re:Defense of patents (2)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199645)

I suggest you read the article:

Woolston took steps to protect his patents almost immediately after he got his first one in 1998--No. 5,845,265, covering a method of creating a marketplace for used or collectible goods over the Internet.

I.e. he was aware of patent infringments, and he has acting on them for several years now.

(Not that it really matters -- as others pointed out, your argument was related to trademarks, not patents)

Re:Defense of patents (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199674)

However, the fact that he started immediately after being granted the patent shows that there were already existing processes and businesses using those methods that he patented. If such things are allowed by the Patent Office, how long is it before someone patents a process whereby you type things into a text box? Or patents a moderation system for a message board? Or patents meta-moderation?

Kierthos

Re:Defense of patents (2)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199723)

Read the article.
He was in discussions with Ebay, they were aware.

He's also been in contact with other online auction sites.

Face Value? (2)

GearheadX (414240) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199588)

Is it just me, or does this look a little bit like some greedy guy who managed to sneak a patent in under everyone's noses during the dot-boom? The timing of this is rather suspect...

What's next, anyway? Everybody and teir dog online is trying to get auction systems off the ground... This guy gonna sue em all?

Re:Face Value? (1)

Sven Tuerpe (265795) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199642)

What's next, anyway?

People learn patents no good. Make people unhappy. People overthrow oppressors. Now people happy.

Re:Face Value? (1)

dpme (594072) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199644)

Yes, but in the article, it shows he filed the patent in 1995, was granted it in 1998, and E-Bay contacted him to talk about licensing it in 2000. This does not sound like some johnny-come-lately trying to cash in on someone else's work. I can't comment on the validitiy of this case (not being a patent lawyer) but this one seems different, as he has been protecting his patent since 1995. This one strikes me as different from some company buying up and old patent, or someone filing a patent of dubious worth-DP

Re:Face Value? (3, Interesting)

EvilAlien (133134) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199656)

You are just jealous that you didn't think of it first =P

In all seriousness, this is akin to domain prospecting, at least if you stretch logic a little. We have a little nobody taking advantage of a loophole in an attempt to gouge an organization with deep pockets. The /. crowd may instinctively side with the little guy on things like this, but the businesses that employ us need to be protected from this kind of thing.

Sneaking in patents (2)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199658)

If you define "sneak a patent in" as in apply for a patent half a year before ebay was founded, yes he snuk it in.
Read the article.

Re:Sneaking in patents (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199687)

Right. Before eBay, no one ever conducted auctions online. Yup, yup, yup.

Look, eBay popularized it. That's all. Sure, they have a nice set-up and all that, but I assure you, internet auctions existed before eBay.

(insert sarcastic tone where needed)

Kierthos

Re:Face Value? (2)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199677)

Is it just me, or does this look a little bit like some greedy guy who managed to sneak a patent in under everyone's noses during the dot-boom? The timing of this is rather suspect

It's just you. From the article:

he sued eBay in 2001 after negotiations broke down over the auction site's offer to purchase his patents.

The company first contacted Woolston in 2000 with an interest in buying the patents.

In other words, eBay knew about the patent and had read it and knew they wanted to licence it. Then they went ahead and used the technique anyway without completing the negotiation. Remember that a patent documents a single technique in great detail, it cannot be something vague and generic like "auctions" - he must have solved one very specific problem that eBay encountered and could not solve on their own.

If eBay had infinged the patent inadvertantly and had by coincidence come up with something identical, that would be a whole different matter. But that's not what happened here.

Patent (1)

yasth (203461) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199589)

Patent [uspto.gov] Seems valid if we accept the idea of Business method patents.

Patent Pending for New Business Model (2, Funny)

reimero (194707) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199591)

I have a new idea for a business model:
Come up with a really generic idea, wait, say, ten years for another company to come up with the same idea and become successful and then sue them!

Part 2 of the business model is to sue people who sue companies under the above premeses for patent infringement. Oh wow! Looks like I got my first target!

and, of course... (2, Funny)

tomzyk (158497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199632)

Step 3: PROFIT!!!

I think Hemos holds the patent for that (N/T) (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199643)

Please try to keep posts on topic.
Try to reply to other people comments instead of starting new threads.
Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.

Re:Patent Pending for New Business Model (2)

D3 (31029) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199691)

Yes, but MY new business model will be to come up with a really generic idea, wait 11 years, and sue you for sueing them!

Troll -1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199595)

Bring on the comments of how the US Patent Office is screwed up and how dumb they are for allowing something like this to be patented...

Ya see it almost EVERY time there is an article in the "Patents" topic area. :-/

Is it still a troll if it's true? (1)

fortinbras47 (457756) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199639)

He's got a point!

And is it neccesary for the moderators to moderate down the criticism of the moderators?

the spelling and grammar troll v1.2 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199598)

It has come to my attention that "slashdot", subsidiary of VA Software, is a refuge for people with a terrible sense for grammar and spelling. As a remediation, please accept the following recommendations about the use of some frequent linguistic expressions :
  • "Alot" vs. "A lot" : There is no such word as alot. In fact, when confronted with the word alot, ispell tells us the following : "how about : allot,aloe,aloft, alto, blot, clot, lot, plot, slot"
  • Just because moronic Americans pronounce Berstein, neither, Einstein and other as "Burnstean", "neather", "Ainstean", etc... doesn't mean they have to write those words "Bernstien", "niether" or "Einstien". Special mention to "thier", "becuase" and "amatuer".
  • "Than" vs. "Then" : Just the fact that in some inferior dialects of the English language, "than" and "then" are pronounced about the same way doesn't mean that the comparative "than" has any reason to be written as the conjunctive/logical "then".
  • Your vs. You're : The former means "not my, not his, not our", in other words it is a possessive. The latter is a shortcut for "You are". Similar point for There vs Their vs They're.
  • Hobbyist and lobbyist are not superlatives. Hence they musn't be written as hobbiest and lobbiest.
  • Thi fuct thit ya ridnucks prunince any avelible vowal as "uh" doesn't forbid you to open a book from time to time to actually build up some vocabulary. It's "ludicrous" and "compatible", not "ludacris" and "compatable".
  • Its vs It's. The former is the genitive form of "It" and will therefore make the following word an attribute of the word replaced by the pronoun. Example : illitteracy and its consequences. The latter is an shortcut for "It is". Example : Illiteracy. It's so annoying.
...many more to come. Reply to this comment to suggest some.

A definition of irony : a bunch of computer nerds without a sense for spelling and grammar mocking japanese game translators for their lack of skills in english spelling and grammar.

Contribution by Erpo :

I'm not any kind of grammar nazi, but decent spelling and grammar are important to me. The occasional affect/effect problem doesn't bother me (it just lowers my opinion of the author), but when a piece is riddled with errors (there/they're/their, its/it's, then/than, etc..) it's hard for me to read. Partially, I think this is because I sight read and I don't subvocalize. In other words, when I see, "It's over their," in print the first thing I think is, "It's over their what? Is it hovering over their kitchen counter? Is it over their heads? What is this person trying to say?" Of course, I don't just sit there pondering those questions (it only takes a split second to see there was a grammar error in the sentence), but I can't read as quickly when every few lines my eyes flick back to an earlier word.

Maybe I'm just hypersensitive. I don't know. If you don't know what I'm talking about though, check out this piece [npgmusicclub.com] by Prince. It doesn't have very many grammar problems, but the "creative" spelling is really distracting.

I know! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199603)

Step 1: get a patent
Step 2: sue ebay
Step 3: ?????
Step 4: Profit!

For once we don't even need the Step 3 -- if only other companies could get such a business plan!

why don't I.. (5, Funny)

Joel Ironstone (161342) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199605)

patent method of acquiring money solely from exploiting patent institutions. In this way I can sue everyone who tries to sue anyone for patent infringement. I can even sue anyone who tries to sue me.

Re:why don't I.. (1)

looseBits (556537) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199641)

I like it!

Re:why don't I.. (2)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199649)

I think there is prior art [slashdot.org] .

Re:why don't I.. (2)

JahToasted (517101) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199720)

Sorry, it would never hold up... too much prior art.

'Prior art' .... (1)

DanEsparza (208103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199734)

Sorry -- I think this has already been done too many times by other people (sadly). You'd have a hard time proving that there was no 'prior art'.

My $.01

Ok, fine (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199606)

Ben Dover, meet eBay. eBay, meet Ben Dover.

In other news..... (0)

slashuzer (580287) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199607)

I have patented the very "method" of patent. So from now on, you'll be unable to patent anything until you pay me the goodies. Yeah, I am also planning to sue all those idijots who have patented stuff before me using my patent "method".

Prior art...? (5, Informative)

Flaming Foobar (597181) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199609)

University of Turku [www.utu.fi] has had an online aucion server for 10 years or so. They used to e.g. auction all their old computer gear, instead of throwing them away. It was pretty popular, although I think they have taken the service offline now.

Patent Theory (1)

The Magic Yak (559288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199610)

This sounds just like the arguements people made when they squatted on domain names. Did this guy have a working model or not? I'm inclined to think eBay's getting screwed but this story really didn't give to many details or case history on online patent areas. This wasn't the same guy who patented that sideways swing a while back, is it?

Re:Patent Theory (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199657)

You don't need a working model for a US patent.

Re:Patent Theory (1)

The Magic Yak (559288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199708)

Yes, however, after reading through his patent, I don't see much "invention". The search engine one seems to be a "minor" modification of the existing search engines at the time (which there certainly were during Dec 1998). Although my experience with patents is limited, I have reviewed criteria and I don't see how this is an "invention". Admittedly, much of the language of the patent is beyond my scope and I might be missing something there.

Ouch (5, Interesting)

wiredog (43288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199611)


The company [eBay] first contacted Woolston in 2000 with an interest in buying the patents. E-mail to that effect is expected to figure prominently in the case because it indicates that eBay knew about Woolston's patents but continued to infringe them, he said.


The patent was filed in 1995, and other companies are already licensing it. Looks valid (under the current rules) too. The only way I see for eBay to keep from getting raped in the courts is for business method patents to be tossed entirely.

Adobe getting hit with DMCA problems, Verizon and the RIAA going at it over DMCA, eBay with patent problems. If enough large and publicly traded companies get hurt by this sort of stuff it could be a good thing. In the long run.

Prior art? (2)

mekkab (133181) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199615)

IANAL, blah blah, but I remember auctions on usenet groups ages ago. Specifically for collectible goods!

I haven't read their patent, but can't some silver-tongued "law-talking-guy" (simpsons ref) spin this patent into the ground?

I got an idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199621)

I am going to go and patent the wheel and then hold to ransom the entire automobile industry. In fact, if I word it correctly, maybe I can get it to include anything circular that allows the forward or reverse motion of a vehicule...

How about patenting the "nation state" or democracy...That's it, I will patent democracy...

And what about patenting the idea of a "an object that allows the access to an otherwise inaccesible araa (a door)"

The world will hopefully grow up one day...

UGH.... (1)

wwwssabbsdotcom (604349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199625)

And how long did this individual wait until he decided to "sue" for his patent? How about UBID as well? Crazy people. www.ssabbs.com Relive the BBS past - One Byte at a time!

I'll admit, I'm stupid. (5, Insightful)

laetus (45131) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199627)

But am I missing something?

Patenting an online auction in my mind is akin to patenting the idea a selling milk in refrigerated display cases, ie,

This patent is for a system that creates a refrigerated marketplace for milk using a refrigerator in a store. The patent also covers the use of a payment-processing service to allow purchasers to pay for the goods.

I mean, where's the creativity that patents are supposedly supposed to protect? In my mind, virtually any business transaction can be ported to the internet. It would be like someone patenting sales calls over a telephone when telephones were first invented.

Re:I'll admit, I'm stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199716)

It would be like someone patenting sales calls over a telephone when telephones were first invented.

Even worse. Imagine traditional telcos suing Cisco over their VoIP protocols.

Re:I'll admit, I'm stupid. (2)

garoush (111257) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199729)

I mean, where's the creativity that patents are supposedly supposed to protect?

The creativity is in phase 2 where they are going to use the patent to auction off eBay -- on eBay.

Amazon invented 1-click buy concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199628)

This guy invented the electronic auction format

Al Gore invented the internet

It's time for me to claim a hot trend and profit. I'm going with XML. That's right, you heard it here first. I INVENTED XML. I just never told anybody.

More proof that patent law needs tinkering (3, Interesting)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199634)

Personally, I think the "cure" is for patent law to be modified so that an absolute description is needed for a patent to be validly claimed rather than the woefully ambiguous "a method of performing auctions..." What kind of crap is that? Can I patent "..a method for transmitting gaseous oxygen in a liquid medium..." then sue everyone for having blood? Of course not, but that's just as silly (ok, so actually that's more silly, but you get my point.)

Shakespear was right: First thing we do, kill all the lawyers. They're the reason this sort of mess is around in the first place.

There should be a rule... (1)

borgheron (172546) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199635)

which says that just because a normal, everyday, commonplace, process is implemented on a computer that does *not* make it patentable.

GJC

Inventor AND Patent Lawyer (2, Insightful)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199636)

Edison is supposed to have said "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" - today it's 1% inspiration and 99% legalese and marketing.

Edison patented everything (3, Interesting)

wiredog (43288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199659)

and defended those patents ferociously. AT&T even more so. This is nothing new.

Re:Inventor AND Patent Lawyer (1)

jrennie (79374) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199713)

You don't think court cases cause perspiration? :-)

Jason

nude pics of kelly clarkson! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199637)

kelly clarkson nude! [mookystick.com]

Ha! Another American company screwed by Greed! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199646)

How long does it take a palestinian woman to make a bomb?

9 months!

What I'd like to patent (1)

gleffler (540281) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199651)

I want to patent the process of getting a patent. I could be a millionaire.

Tedious (2, Insightful)

cd-w (78145) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199654)

This is getting tedious. There is a patent article on Slashdot nearly every day now. Linux was absolutely right when he said that we should just ignore software patent issues. The vast majority of patents are never enforced or are overturned in any case.

He has a case (legally) (4, Insightful)

gosand (234100) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199661)

From the looks of the article (you did read the article, didn't you?) it seems that he had the "online auction" idea patented before eBay went into business. There were even negotiations for eBay to buy his patents. But that fell through, and eBay went ahead infringing on his patents.

So LEGALLY, it appears that eBay is at fault. This doesn't address the fact that there is such a huge hole in the entire software patent/intellectual propterty concept.

Legally, this guy has a claim, but by all rights he shouldn't. This is exactly why patenting ideas and business models is stupid. This guy is a lawyer (patent attorney no less), and has gone after priceline.com and goto.com for infringements on some of his other patents.

As long as the system is broken, people will take advantage of it.

Re:He has a case (legally) (1)

Tonetheman (173530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199689)

You are right really. He does have a case.

I think that there is something morally wrong here also though. Holding patents and then waiting for a good time to sue is something akin to domain squatting maybe?

Anyway I thinking about getting a patent on breathing... I am pretty sure I thought that up first.

Re:He has a case (legally) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199721)

From the article, it looks like he also has patents on the typical "shopping cart" application and on electronic payment for goods purchased. This isn't the same guy who trademarked the name "Linux" originally, is it? :-)

The real problem (3, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199668)

There are a few problems with the patent system. Amongst them are:
  • Having to pay huge fees for patent searches. Because of this it usually ends up being cheaper to send in a patent application and then let someone else scream prior art.
  • Now with international law protecting patents of other countries, it just became even more complicated to make sure that there was no prior art.
  • The obvious is being patented (this is obvious to /. readers). Then again, when you aren't working in a given field what is obvious will vary. This means that we really need a means of public screening of patents.
There is no such thing as a perfect system. Anything is open to abuse, so there needs to be guidelines and reviews for a system to be run as close to the original intent as possible.

I kinda like this (1)

OrthonormalBasisVect (600812) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199673)

I know it makes me a sick puppy, OTOH, I've had a problem with the whole concept of patenting math and logic for a while. It might be cool if we /. folks could gather together, patent a bunch of essentials the PTO is too inept to understand, and then jump all over some big guys when they infringe. Not to make money, but simply to make the big dogs spend their money to fix this obviously broken system.

When Amazon has the patent the little guy gets screwed. When the little guy has the patent, Amazon (or ebay) might have more motivation to fix an obviously broken system, as it isn't operating to their benefit anymore.

There will NEVER be a computer software patent (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199676)

That's what my dad was told in the early days... if only the patent office had been right!
sir_haxalot

Item #90483739293 (1)

roalt (534265) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199678)

Law:Rights:US:Patents:Hopeless


Price: $200,000. (reserve not yet met)
Quantity: 1
Time Left: 10 days, 4 hours +

Description

Patent 5,845,265 covers the right to buy and sell used and collectible goods on a computerized market like ebay. The winning bid is also responsible for costs of shipping and insurance.

eBay Knew About the Patents (2)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199680)

I have a problem with those hanging eBay out to dry because they have been working on buying these patents for two years.


Had I been smart enough to start eBay way-back-when, I would not have had the resources to examine patents, I would have just programmed the site and put up the business. As it grew, I might have been notified about the patent, and from there consulted a lawyer. There is no way I would have shut down, saying, "Well, I have found out about a possible infringement, and while in the process of speaking with a patent holder we are out of business." The company by this time is multi-million dollars a year.


When does the American dream come through? If I have an idea, I want to protect anyone that had a like idea, but don't kill my business while I am working with the original idea holder. All I can see from this is money in lawyers' pockets.

Prior Art (2)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199683)

I remember auctions on Fidonet a looooooong time ago, which definitally falls under the realm of "a computerized market for used and collectible goods"

Man, am I glad... (1)

vsack (558342) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199686)

...that I patented the business model of getting generic patents, then going after large companies with lots of money. My patent covers both bullying them to settle out of court and having a technologically impaired judge award in my favor.

I'm going to sue the pants off of Woolston!

Somebody better sue the patent office soon (5, Informative)

crovira (10242) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199698)

(When did the USPO go "For Profit?" Who was in power, albeit not in possession of any higher cognitive abilities?)

This type of mandated idiocy won't stop until the USPO get sued for some really big bucks and whoever issued the patent, reviewed it, supervised and made money from letting it escape it, gets their ass fired.

I think this might be the case that breaks the camel's back. ebay should sue the patent office for interfering with their normal existing legal business operations.

In fact, it might be fun to try taking out a patent on the information recording portions of the patenting process and sue the USPO for patent violation.

Bill Gates was right in his 1991 memo. The application of software and process patents will bring the very concept of innovation to a stand-still.

Another business method someone should patent (3, Funny)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199699)

"A method of sending out unsolicited mass electronic mailings to email addresses of individuals who have expressed absolutely no interest in the product or service being offered. Such 'spam' is to consist exclusively of worthless potions, creams, and pills for enlarging or reducing areas of the body, pyramid schemes to get rich quick, offers for clubs no one in their right mind would join, and letters from deposed heads of state begging you to help move money from poor African nations."

If only someone would patent *that* and sue the #$%@! out of all of the infringers!

Markman ruling? (2)

Observer (91365) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199707)

From the referenced news story:
The judge has not translated MercExchange's patent claims into plain English, an important part of a patent dispute. Until he completes this step, known as the Markman ruling, it's hard to tell how big the threat is to eBay, said Carl Oppedahl, an intellectual property lawyer with Dillon, Colo.-based Oppedahl & Larson.
Google came up with this pointer [google.com] (it's from one party in a patent dispute, but gives the general idea).

Maybe I'm being naive, but wouldn't it be easier to require that the claims in the patent be understandable in the first place without requiring the quasi-religious intervention of the courts?

Karma: Hopelessly naive (mainly affected by bewilderment at modern life).

Re:Markman ruling? (1)

joncarwash (600744) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199731)

Maybe I'm being naive, but wouldn't it be easier to require that the claims in the patent be understandable in the first place without requiring the quasi-religious intervention of the courts?

Yes, but that would make sense. Unfortunately, common sense is not compatible with the patent system.

My brain is patented too... (4, Insightful)

joncarwash (600744) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199710)

I'm glad that the patent system protects people who have no product or service at all.

But he couldn't raise the funding and eventually turned to the business of licensing his patents to other companies

Instead, you can just "think" up some "intellectual property" that exists only in your brain, fail to implement any form of it, and then get a patent.

Seems to be a trend here, especially with the recent the JPEG issue [slashdot.org] , the mp3 issue [slashdot.org] , and now this. Looks like all you have to do is "think up" something and patent it, sit around for a while for someone to do all the implementation work (the real work, mind you), then sue their behind off. I suppose that means lazy bums like me have a chance in this world..

The easy way out (1)

LaserBeams (412546) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199711)

It would be so much easier if he were to just sell his patents on eBay, then let someone else deal with the years of shame, scorn, oppression, and pestilence that would rain down upon him by filing this lawsuit.

There are lots of people out there whose sole source of income is eBay - in essence, they work at an auction house. And many of them are darned good at it.

Either way, I'm just glad I finished up my last few eBay auctions for a while. :)

This guy is a scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199719)

"Woolston took steps to protect his patents almost immediately after he got his first one in 1998--No. 5,845,265, covering a method of creating a marketplace for used or collectible goods over the Internet."
.
The Marketplace already existed, simply not electronically. Used or collectible goods? Are those not Garage sale fodder? Prior art of any type would help slap this doofus right in the arse.

Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199722)

The more of this crap I see, the more these guys make sense:

http://www.armory.com/~crisper/Scorch/

WIleECoyote

My Patent (1)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199724)

I have a patent on a "Computerized method of sex, that involves masturbation by both persons while talking about it over a computer network." I'll call it cybersex!

another stupid patent (1)

Fooknut (73366) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199732)

I think the guy will lose.

There should be (and may actually be) a statute of limitations saying that if you patent something and don't actually use your patent AND/OR enforce it in a certain time period that you should LOSE the patent.

The idea of selling stuff online isn't new and shouldn't be a patentable idea.

I can imagine that back in caveman days some shmuck patented the "wheel". Every single idea based on it is now his and we owe him 1.4 qua-zillion clams.

Why is that not patentig an idea (2)

Khalid (31037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4199737)

Can someone explain how is that not the patenting of an idea without any regard to it's implementation. So what this patent means is that you can't create an auction system whatever your implementation is !?

Are ideas really non patentables ?

Sorry Prior art exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4199739)

Back in the day, the days of BBS's, there were many auction doors availible. This jerk is just trolling. What a pussy!
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