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eBay May Lose 'Buy it Now' Button in Patent Case

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the ain't-it-obvious-yet dept.

Patents 177

Spamicles writes "A judge has delayed his ruling on the eBay patent infringement case. eBay has been involved in a legal dispute over the use of its popular "Buy it Now" button, which allows consumers to skip the bidding and purchase items on eBay directly. The patent suit was filed six years ago by MercExchange L.L.C. In May of 2003, a jury ruled in MercExchange's favor finding that eBay did in fact infringe on the patent, but in 2005 the US Supreme Court ruled that MercExchange was not automatically entitled to a court order blocking the offending service, essentially handing a victory down to patent reform advocates. However, the ruling by the Supreme Court does not affect the final judgment of the court."

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177 comments

Yeah (4, Funny)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515489)

That makes sense. Yay for software patents!

Re:Yeah (3, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515569)

That makes sense. Yay for software patents!

Doesn't even strike me as a software patent - more of a business process patent.

Re:Yeah (5, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516933)

Which hints at the ultimate remedy for this nonsense:
Shaming.
When companies engage in blatant absurdity, and try to abuse the legal system in the name of lining their wallets, the online community needs to publicize the fact that these companies suck much pond water.
After enough negative profit impact from bogus lawsuits, even the most pointy-haired of bosses will get the memo.
If the gubmint can't do the right thing, then let's rally the market.

Consider this still-steaming loaf of farce:

"Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned," NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton said. "If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year."
http://www.contentagenda.com/CA6452245.html [contentagenda.com]
RMS torpedoed this one nicely: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html [gnu.org]
Unfortunately, money both talks and buys legislation.

Re:Yeah (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 6 years ago | (#19517013)

Shaming won't work against patent trolls.

They won't give a damn about their reputation, lawsuits and patent licensing is how they do business. In fact, probably the more infamous they become the better, as companies would be more likely to just pay up.

What is needed is anti-patent troll legislation: If you don't make it, you don't get to own a patent on it.

Re:Yeah (2, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#19517051)

With sufficient money in the game, the legislation is doomed.

lawsuits and patent licensing is how they do business
Which is why their business should be attacked in the marketplace through better visibility of a) who is the troll, and b) who are they doing business with. We need to create the anti-troll.

Re:Yeah (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19515997)

More importantly, does this mean that the auction house in WoW will lose its 'Buyout' button? O NOES!!

Heh (5, Funny)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516011)

Heh. Given that, say, the in-game auction house on WoW has an instant buy option too, I wonder how long until they'll want their cut there too.

And will they take the license fee in game money, since that's all that changes virtual hands? I can just see a party of lawyers riding to Ironforge and Orgrimmar to demand their license fees.

Well, the dwarves might even pay up, but I'd worry about trying to collect from the Orcs. I doubt anyone explained to Thrall yet how the license system works. And troll tribes tend to kill each other on sight, so I'd advise the patent trolls to stay clear of the Darkspear trolls ;)

Re:Heh (1)

tomatensaft (661701) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516327)

In EVE Online there is also an equivalent to this "Buy it now" button, called "Buyout". Auction initializer has an option to specify a price of an item, which a buyer would have to pay in order to buy it without any bidding.

Trolls (0, Offtopic)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516915)

And troll tribes tend to kill each other on sight, so I'd advise the patent trolls to stay clear of the Darkspear trolls ;)
Troll #1: So.. What sort critter be this?
Troll #2: Dunno... It wave this paper and shrieks "Patant violitor!" and no want to shut up, so I just spear him.
Troll #1: Mmmm... Ya think it be fit for eatin?
Troll #2: Dunno, it looking scrawny.
Troll #1: (Cuts off an arm and takes a bite.) Ptui!...(Spits out chunk of flesh).
Troll #2: No good.. huh?
Troll #1: It spoiled methinks....

Re:Heh (1)

Ciggy (692030) | more than 6 years ago | (#19517201)

Well, there is a sort of prior art in [the good ol' ASCII graphic'd *nix] Larn: after collecting gold and treasure on the way to getting the specific potion, depositing some of said gold in the bank, etc, once you had found the potion and completed game you'd get emails from the game requesting you pay your taxes! (Obviously in games funds.)

Of course ! (0, Redundant)

golodh (893453) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516255)

What ho!

Clearly now Ebay is shamelessly ripping off MercExchange's Valuable Intellectual Property! That button to signify "buy at requested maximum price" is the clearly fruit of serious innovation obtained through hard-won research, and recognised as "original" by the widely acclaimed US Patent Office.

Ebay should pay up ... and quickly! Best that Ebay simply gives MercExchange it's main bank account and password so that MercExchange can help itself to whatever they feel are reasonable license fees. To avoid unnecessary delays you understand?

Guess they'll just have to make it... (5, Funny)

GroundBounce (20126) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515547)

"Buy it later"

Re:Guess they'll just have to make it... (5, Funny)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515567)

How about "Skip bidding?"

Re:Guess they'll just have to make it... (1)

Klanglor (704779) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516849)

my friend, you could have been rich... i feel sorry for you.. now someone just patterned it.

Re:Guess they'll just have to make it... (2, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515627)

Also don't forget:

"Buy something now!" (think "I'm feeling lucky!")

"Buyz it now!" (think "P2P")

Hey, this patenting thing is a lot easier than I thought!

Or create a different button with the same fxn... (5, Funny)

feedmetrolls (1108119) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515689)

Buy it immediately?
Purchase now?
Screw the bidding?
Screw the bidders?
Screw Flanders?

Re:Or create a different button with the same fxn. (2, Funny)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 6 years ago | (#19517415)

I, for one, welcome our patent-enforcing Flanders-screwing overlords.

Re:Guess they'll just have to make it... (1)

Doc Daneeka (1107345) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516179)

All jokes aside, is it even plausible to say that a "Buy out" feature in a bidding system is non-obvious and therefore patentable? Is it really that novel of an idea or is this another fine example of "A normal idea but on the Internet!" kind of innovation?

The summary is inaccurate. (2, Insightful)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515573)

What this ruling is, is a concession by the courts for big business interests. The state has no interest in patent reform.

Re:The summary is inaccurate. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515601)

You mean it doesn't have anything to do with mouth-breathing juries not being able to know when a claim is full of shit?

Re:The summary is inaccurate. (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516051)

Why would the juries knowledge or lack thereof in the original matter have anything to do with the finding? The ruling was made, this does not change the pertinent ruling in any way. What was decided in the Supreme Court, simply gave eBay another delay in implementing the inevitable court order, which will block eBay from continuing to provide a "Buy it now" button. I wish I had the money to bribe appelate judges so my lawyers could attempt to put up more stumbling blocks. The courts don't care about patent reform or jury incompetence. The summary is inaccurate.

Re:The summary is inaccurate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19515941)

big business interests
This has nothing to do with "big business interests". They're the ones losing out here. The threat to big proprietary software companies is far worse than any threat to open source/free software.

The people doing the most abuse of patent system are small startup venture capital patent trolling/trading companies. They buy some patents and then sue anyone they think is breaking their patent, hoping for a big payout from the courts. At no time do they ever use the patents they have. They don't even understand what patents they hold in their hands... I bet most of them still use pen and paper in preference to computers!

The US patent system (and to a wider degree, the hype about "intellectual property") is an absolute mess and a complete screwup. Abolish it.

Re:The summary is inaccurate. (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516061)

I dont think you understand what the topic is, it's not about the original decision (which agreeably, was bad). The topic is about how eBay won a stay of hand. How did they do this? (normally any mom-and-pop shop would already be sued or shut down due to cease-and-desist) Money in the backrooms.

Re:The summary is inaccurate. (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#19517065)

How did they do this? .... Money in the backrooms.

It also could have to do with the fact that eBay is actually using it's 'Buy It Now' feature, whereas the other party appears to be planting their ass in a chair somewhere like a typical suit and just hassling other people who use their 'IP.'

That gives eBay a lot more money to work with to defend their practices. It also gives them a large audience of people who support their right to list BIN items. I bought three tubes of TTL gates with BIN just last night, for example...

Alternative (5, Funny)

kmahan (80459) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515585)

"Buy it after waiting 1 second" button.

Re:Alternative (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#19517077)

You make a good point, in that on eBay when you click the 'Buy It Now' button it takes you to at least one layer of confirmation to proceed. If your cookie is set, you click a second button to confirm the BIN action. If your cookie is not set, you have to log in (so it's a 'three button click.)

Time? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19515591)

The patent suit was filed six years ago by MercExchange L.L.C. In May of 2003,


Welcome to the future of 2009 where we can file patent suits whenever we feel like.

Re:Time? (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516031)

May 2003 was when the case was brought against eBay. So the patent must have been issued by then, not merely filed.

Re:Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516883)

May of 2003 was when the 'ruling' was reached....reading comprehension ftw.

Re:Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19517093)

Whu, capitalization actually means something???

And they will replace it with (4, Insightful)

ATAMAH (578546) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515609)

"Purchase it straight away" button, or something along those lines... We are a community where the mindset of "can't make profit? Litigate !" - and it is only getting worse.

What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19515633)

using a link that says "buy it now" instead of a button?

Re:What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516261)

I doubt any patent is THAT specific.

The "Buy It Now" button in patent-speak would be:

"A method or apparatus of establishing a level of synchronous or asynchronous communication between two parties with the goal of conveying purchase decision logic across a spatial divide."

The ultimate in stupid patents (4, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515639)

I thought seriously about tagging this story with the tag "bull shit", because that's what this patent is. This should become the new poster child for "patent troll" and "patent office stupidity". This is even a more boneheaded patent than Amazon's non-innovation of one click buying (which always seems to take me two or three clicks anyway).

What's next, they're going so take Walmart to court because Walmart lets me buy something without bidding on it? Are they going to take the owners of the live auction I go to each week to court because after high bid is set on an item, they allow those present to buy multiples of that same item for the same high bid without running another auction process?

I'm all for the rights of a business to prosper and benefit from their original ideas. But this patent is about as far from "original" as you can get, and is as original as my getting up out of bed each morning and taking a piss. This company should be exterminated like the worthless parasite that it is. I said it before about SCO, and it applies here too...those who can innovate, while those who can't litigate.

Re:The ultimate in stupid patents (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515901)

getting up out of bed each morning and taking a piss.
You do that? I have the patent on that. I'm suing you!
I bet you wish you posted AC this time don't cha.

Re:The ultimate in stupid patents (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516131)

There's a big difference between all of those other things that obviously can't be patented and the "buy it now" patent: the buy it now button is on the Internet.

You can patent anything from daily life by adding, "on the Internet" to it. For example, "getting up out of bed each morning and taking a piss" is clearly covered by prior art, but "getting up out of bed each morning and taking a piss on the Internet" was patentable (up until I posted this comment which should count as prior art).

You can do the same thing with other communication mediums: A method for ordering pita delivery (which is clearly covered by prior art), but then add...
on a mobile phone...
over a microwave relay link...
though an underwater hyrdophone...
by courier pigeon...
through a standalone kiosk with a touch screen...
etc...

And just like that you have a new innovative creation to push our modern idea driven economy forward!

Please look for my upcoming book entitled, How to Become a Modern Thomas Edison: the Art and Culture of Clubbing Your Competitors With Timeless Innovation.

Hey..I patented that... (2, Funny)

superash (1045796) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515641)

According to AP reports, the USPTO has looked at the patents issued to MercExchange, and in early findings, the USPTO said that the patents held by MercExchange should not have been issued.

Aye!! You just sneezed!! I have a patent on this style of sneezing! Pay me $$$$ !!
Aye! You just did a double click using the mouse! I own the patent for double clicking! Pay me now!!
Aye!! You just farted!! It smells crap!! ta-da..patent... I will sue ya!!

I wonder what other patents were granted in the past...

The stupidity of the current Patent situation (3, Insightful)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515649)

The current patent laws are so stupid that it causes me physical pain to witness the things that actually make it to court. When the people envisaging the patent system designed it, had they recieved applications like the ones routinely honoured today, they would have laughed the applicant out of their office. What they are claiming to have a patent on is the idea, or process, whereby you buy an item for a set price rather than bidding on it... ..... ...... And your court system is happy to deliberate on this. Seriously, how much deliberation do they require? I bought some sushi today from the local sushi bar, and I didn't have to bid on it... they are obviously in violation of this patent... and I bought some hardware components from an online retailer, didn't have to bid there either. The idea of patents was to enable people, particularly individuals on limited budgets, to profit from their original inventions. One of the core requirements of a patent is that it not be for something obvious. Lets be honest. Does it get more obvious than the purchasing of something for a set price? Is there anyone that isn't familiar with that idea? I think i'm going to burst a blood vessel on this one.

Re:links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19515735)

In my half assed attempt at reading that- it seems that ebay doesn't infringe anyway. Does Buy It Now constitute changing the price after the purchaser has purchased the item?

From the 2003 article: (1)

JensenDied (1009293) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515679)

eBay must pay $35 million in patent case A federal jury has ruled that eBay's model for selling fixed-price merchandise violates a patent filed by a Virginia attorney...
http://edition.cnn.com/2003/TECH/biztech/05/28/eba y.lawsuit.ap/ [cnn.com]
So, attorney's sell merchandise, and for a fixed price? Now if only I could find these prices somewhere.

Re:From the 2003 article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516019)

$35 million?? My God, that's not even the cost of a decent pair of pants these days. Just cut a check and move on...
Wearing Down the Judicial System [washingtonpost.com]

Anybody notice? (1)

Octavio Paz (1113545) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516923)

that Wooston is a former CIA agent who is now "walking on sunshine?" Someone should sue him for using a song lyric in his speech. Cronyism? C'mon. Cronyism today in the era of BushCo? I wonder if he was a Freemason before he became CIA and got some clever ideas while sitting at his desk getting a check from the fed or driving around in his CIA motorpool car. Maybe one of his buddies told him how to do it.

I predict Ebay will "lashout" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19515681)

Ebay is going to throw a corpo-tantrum because of this. They'll lash out. In their home town? Then I'd watch out and cover my eyes...except you don't even have to be protesting to get hit this time.

I'm going to patent my doorbell...ding-dong! (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515745)

Betcha no one has ever patented the concept of a 'doorbell' wherein you depress a momentary-contact switch to activate a sound-generating device that signals to all of those within hearing distance that someone is standing in front of the door and wishes to gain access. The old patents cover the idea of pulling a rope or chain to ring a bell but those are so yesterday.

A Very Simple Summary Breakdown (5, Funny)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515793)

MercExchange patents 'buy it now' - Thank You!
Ebay negotiates a license - How much you want?
Ebay doesn't get a license - Whoa! That's too much
Ebay intentionally uses it anyway - What are they gonna do, sue us?
MercExchange brings a lawsuit against Ebay - Yes
Judge rules in favor of MercExchange - I can see your name on the patent
Judge misapplies injuction process - this stuff is complicated
Ebay appeals the injuction - HaHa! a technicality
Judges rule that the injunction was done wrong - I can see the process wasn't followed
Judges also comment on current patent law - this shit sucks
MercExchange requests the injunction be applied permanently - we hate Ebay
Ebay requests postponement until patent is reassessed - No rush, we can wait 10 years
Judge must now make a decision - damned if I do, damned if I don't

Independent Creation (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515815)

Could someone please explain to me why certain patent battles, such as this, aren't just investigated for "independent creation" on the part of the accused infringer?

I'm pretty sure that I was taught in college that 2 people can hold the patents to 2 very similar products so long as both came up with their respective products independent of each other. With such a simple idea as "Buy it now", wouldn't a rational judge throw such a case out?

Besides simple corruption of the legal system by big money, what am I missing?

Re:Independent Creation (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515915)

IAmostcertainlyNAL, but I think you are incorrect. Patents are an absolute monopoly (unlike copyright, where independent creation is a legitimate defense).

Still, a rational judge should still throw this out! I think the idea of a buy it now function is exceedingly obvious, and I am no auctioneer!

Re:Independent Creation (1)

ShadowDrgn (114114) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515923)

I think you've confused patent and copyright law. A patent grants you the right to exclude others from your invention no matter whether they came up with the same idea on their own or copied it from you.

Re:Independent Creation (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516077)

You're thinking of copyright, not patents. Patents grant an absolute monopoly, it doesn't matter that you came up with the infringing idea/product/whatever completely independently. All that matters is whether or not you can demonstrate prior art and have the patent invalidated.

That's one of the reasons why a lot of companies file vapourware patents on ideas before they're ready to actually implement them. If they took the time to do all the research, someone else might beat them to getting the patent and they'll be in danger of having wasted their time and money. In an ideal world, of course, they could be secure in the knowledge that if they can genuinely demonstrate independent, concurrent development they would at least be granted some sort of "shared patent", but that's not the way it works.

Re:Independent Creation (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516359)

I'm pretty sure that I was taught in college that 2 people can hold the patents to 2 very similar products so long as both came up with their respective products independent of each other.
There is no allowance for independent creation. First person to invent and file wins. Infact, if someone has invented something and does not patent it but does publish the invention, someone else cannot patent the same invention unless they can prove they were first. This is because patents should only be granted on inventions that are novel (i.e. no prior art exists) and non-obvious.

With such a simple idea as "Buy it now", wouldn't a rational judge throw such a case out?
It does seem to stretch the bounds of "non-obvious". However this case does not appear to be about evaluating the patent's validity, but rather whether or not eBay are infringing on the patent (valid or not).

Re:Independent Creation (2, Informative)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516867)

I'm pretty sure that I was taught in college that 2 people can hold the patents to 2 very similar products so long as both came up with their respective products independent of each other.
College taught you wrong, for that is not true. In fact, the very opposite is true -- independent creation is not a defense to patent infringement. From Hyperlaw:

In the United States, patents confer rights to exclude others from making, using, or selling in the United States the invention claimed by the patent for a period of seventeen years from the date of issue. To gain patent protection, an invention (which may be a product, process, machine, or composition of matter) must be novel, nonobvious, and useful. [Patents] . . . protect[] an invention not only from copying but also from independent creation . . ."
http://www.hyperlaw.com/ipguide.htm [hyperlaw.com]

Thus, not only can two people hold very similar patents (because the second patented would not be "novel" and thus not eligible for patent protection), but "independent creation" is not a defense to patent infringement.

That's it! Now, another question: (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516999)

Thanks to all who replied and cleared this up! =) (The mix up of mine being the terminology "patent" and "copyright".)

According to the patent here HERE [uspto.gov] it looks exactly like a "Buy-Out Auction" but on a computah. Does this then imply that I can take any archaic process put it on a computah (or just say I can) and patent troll, too?

Sounds very Half Baked -- "... but have you seen it... on weed?

E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515875)

Screw them. Until E-bay institutes a much needed "overtime" change, I will never do business anymore. I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.

Here's how it should work. Let's say the bid ends today at 5:00pm. However, if someone places a bid at 4:50pm, it should extend the end time to 5:10pm. At this point, it will continue to be extended to 5:20, 5:30, and 5:40 as long as there still bidding going on. Only when there's a period of inactivity, the bid is closed.

Such a system is fair for the bidder, and great for the seller. Also, e-bay would gain an extra cut from the increased sales revenue. It's a win, win, win situation for all parties involved. So WTF is holding E-bay back? Do they WANT to piss everyone off?

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

stevenvi (779021) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516007)

You know, this is one of the reasons I don't use Ebay. After reading your argument, it seems to make 100% perfect sense.

I can only assume that this concept has already been patented, which is why they have not implemented it.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (4, Informative)

MaelstromX (739241) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516047)

Screw them. Until E-bay institutes a much needed "overtime" change, I will never do business anymore. I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.


Evidently the people who use these programs want the items you are bidding on more than you do, or it would not matter that they are entering last-minute bids. Enter as your maximum bid the highest possible price you would want to buy the item for, and it won't matter if somebody enters a bid at the last possible moment because you will automatically outbid them.

If you are not willing to do this, chances are the other person wants the item more than you do (i.e. is willing to pay more for it, no matter when they entered their bid) and thus you don't deserve to win it. The system is not broken.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (2, Interesting)

TheDormouse (614641) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516541)

Thank you for explaining this.

The problem with eBay is stupid bidders. If everyone would figure out how much they were willing to pay, then bid that much and be done with it, we'd all be happier buyers.

The problem is the bidders who either (1) have no idea how much they are willing to pay but, by God, they're gonna win this auction, or (2) they don't understand the way the bidding process works. Some people belong in both groups.

The people in group 1 somewhat artificially drive up the price. They increase their bid a couple of bucks a dozen times in the last few minutes because, rather than simply bidding the maximum they are actually willing to pay, they keep on jacking up the price until they've either got the high bid or time runs out.

People in group 2 don't seem to understand that they could bid $1,000,000,000.00 on a piece of $5 costume jewelry and they'll only have to pay a few bucks more than the 2nd highest bid. That's right folks: the *second* highest bidder sets the selling price that the highest bidder pays. The people who don't get this concept may have actually come up with a maximum they are willing to pay, but they ease up to it in the last few minutes instead of bidding their maximum and walking away. This group only encourages group 1's behavior.

Because of these groups who don't know how to play the auction game, the only way to win many auctions is to decide how much you are willing to pay and snipe at the last moment (unless it's already bid up higher than your personal maximum). Otherwise someone will decide "I guess I could bid a couple more bucks" in the last minutes of the auction. It's no wonder than people have developed sniping software to do this automatically for buyers who are busy sleeping, working, or enjoying life.

And by the way, if you're bidding on any of *my* auctions, forget all this. Bid early! Bid often!

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516609)

Come, now. Isn't this part of the classical heap paradox? If you're willing to pay $200, why not $201? This is actually a classical paradox in decision theory, see the dollar auction [wikipedia.org] example.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516691)

The high bid at the end of the auction wins. Period. Why is this so hard to understand?

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516961)

It seems you've never used eBay. When you make a bid, the system generates - if possible - an automatic, lower bid for you that trumps all other bids. It is the difference between this amount and the amount you actually bid that causes the confusion. I wonder how people would feel if eBay changed their software so that your maximum amount became your actual bid, with no automatic bidding?

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516073)

Do they WANT to piss everyone off?

The only problem with your less than fantastic idea is that it would piss bidders off.

I'm sure as a seller though, you would think that is great. Riddle me this, if that's such a fantastic idea, then why hasn't Overstock.con who has the very system you suggest, eclipse (or even come close) to ebay's market share??

I'll tell you why, because it's a stupid idea. As a bidder, I don't want to spend all day dinking around with an auction that never seems to end. I would tire of it fast, and not participate in any of the auctions at all (I never even bother going to overstock's site). Because of this, the auctions would be like a ghost town, like what overstock.com auctions are.

If you pay attention, you will see that stuff goes close to what it is worth, regardless of the last minute bids. If you look at the completed auctions, for an item of the same type and quality you will see that the final price is remarkably consistent.

So as a seller, stop whining and being greedy over nothing. There is a lot wrong with ebay, but having an auction end at a specific time is definitely not one of them. You can offer your stuff for sale at any price you want on ebay. If it's a reasonable deal, somebody will buy it. If not it is not going to sell no matter if there is an "overtime" auction ending or not.

Until E-bay institutes a much needed "overtime" change, I will never do business anymore.

Your presence will not be missed. CIAO

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (3, Insightful)

great throwdini (118430) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516085)

I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over. [Bidding should] continue to be extended ... as long as there still bidding going on. Only when there's a period of inactivity, the bid is closed. [...] So WTF is holding E-bay back? Do they WANT to piss everyone off?

Oh, I dunno. Is it because people have lives and aren't interested in listings on the glorified yardsale that is eBay being extended indefinitely with nickle-and-dime bids? Or perhaps it's the potential for abuse as shills hammer open-ended closings to maximize gain at the expense of others? Then again, it could just be that eBay doesn't think it worth the effort to rewrite the codebase so an item can climb from $1.00 to $2.00 over the course of another hour?

Compared to real-world auctions, the vast majority of items on eBay aren't worth much and the potential number of bidders is far, far larger. Both these factor into why open-ended closure isn't as cut-and-dried a process as you lay out. It just doesn't make sense, especially to eBay, a company that wants quick sell-through (look at their fee structuring) rather than lingering listings. That was the motivation to the introduction of Buy It Now in the first place, and your proposal runs counter to that.

There's no magic to beating last-minute dropped connections or competing automated bids: just bid what you're willing to pay up front, and if you don't win, wait for the item to turn up again (and again) from another seller. Even under your plan, those two self-indentified evils would still exist, only moreso, as the timeframe for each would be extended. I don't see how sliding auction closure does anything to address either in the least.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#19517365)

Actually there was a bug in Ebay that allowed you to place a bid up to 8 seconds after close if you used one of the European servers to place your bid. Lots of people used it for a while to snag a item after bidding closed until the hole was closed (It was a time slip). The other problem with bidding what you are willing to pay is that ebay is full of incredibly stupid people bidding. I have seen used items go for more money than what you could have bought it new for on Amazon or other online store. People get sucked into the bidding and "It's mine! I'm gonna outbid everyone" mentality, and many items get out of control fast. As a seller, I use tricks to incite the bidding stupidity (list everything starting at %0.99 no reserve) As a buyer, I snipe by hand in the last 10 seconds as most of the sniping software has not worked right for over a year now, nor can it get a feel in the last 30 seconds as to if you will even want to snipe.

Bidding what you think it's worth to you usually does not work. Sniping at the last second is what get's you a lightly used Canon rebel XT digital camera body for $145.00, Or a Toughbook CF-30 for a $450.00 price. Nither of those would have been won at those really low prices if I sat there bidding like everyone else. Coming in at the last second with less reaction time than the other guys have snaggs it, you get a good deal instead of a Ok deal. That is what Ebay has been all about from day 1.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516125)

I'm tired of all the 1-second-till-end phantom biding programs and online services screwing me over.

Bid slightly over what you want to pay and then forget it; that's the secret to eBay. If you get the item, then fine. If not, then at least you haven't paid more than you wanted to. The system you're suggesting would be abused sideways to Sunday.

Personally, I'd like to see the end of "Buy it now" (although not because of a lame patent). I came for an auction, not a row of bloody Hong Kong shops.

TWW

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516273)

95% of the time I use Buy-it-now, especially for consumables and cheapo stuff (which is why I'm reading this Slashdot story in the first place) It's just not worth the effort to bid on $5 or $10 items only to wait 7-10 days and get knocked off by someone else. (And if you bid $15 or $17 or $21 someone will still beat you by 50c) I'd rather pay the $15 up front and secure the item.

mod parent up (2, Interesting)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516499)

seriously, there's no point getting into a bidding war on any item on ebay and this is the approach i take.

I actually think that ebay (or $NewCompetitor) would do well to change the whole system over to blind bidding. That is you put in the max you're willing to pay at the start and have to wait until the auction is over to see who won and at what price and the auto-bid history behind that. Throughout the duration of the auction there would be no "current bid" on display, just the start price and the number of bidders. If person A bids $10 max and person B bids $15 max person B will still win with $10.01 but they'd both have to wait and see.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516515)

mod parent down as stupid

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (2, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516821)

Do they WANT to piss everyone off?

Yes. I think this is their entire business strategy.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516873)

Why are you bidding less than you are willing to pay, in the proxy bidding auction?

People who keep bidding by 1 penny until they outbid me piss me off.

Oh well, I simply learned to use these systems. They are mostly free to use and work like a charm protecting against stupid people who have no clue what proxy bidding is, against kids who bid just to piss you off and never buy, and against crooked sellers who use fake account on rare wares. Plus doesn't advertize given seller.

Case 1: the item is worth to you $100, but is available for $10. You bid $100, which shows as $11. Some idiot comes along, bids $12. Your bid rises to $13, "oh, bastard outbid me, I'll show him", bids $14. Still less than $100, so he outbids your $15... pissed to no end with "you bastard outbidding him" he ends up spending $110 on an item he didn't want to pay more than $15 in the first place, but "I showed him" ego boost.
Solution: bid $100 1s before end. You outbid his $12 with $13.

Case 2: a kid tries to "test" how much you bid on your item, bids in increments of $5 with no intention of ever paying. Stops after outbidding you. Either you raise your bet to $110 or lose. Alternatively the kid leaves bored at $80, no other competition shows up, you pay $80 instead of $10.
Solution: no bid - no "testing"

Case 3: crooked seller sells car parts. Given part is really obscure and he's the only one with it on whole ebay. The display price is very low too. You bid $10. "Oh, a customer willing to buy that part, let's see if they are desperate enough to pay $50" - and he bids $30 on that very part, which lay without bids on ebay for last two years. But you need it and so you bid $50 to outbid him.
Solution: bid when he has no time to react.

Case 4: the category is full of items differing very little, at very similar prices. There are 2-3 bids total in 200 or so offers. You spend a hour seeking out an offer which is by a small margin better than others. You bid the price which is right, about what the seller asks. Some kid comes along, sees offers 0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,1,0,0,0... so they check the offer with one bid. "Likely the best". They outbid you, offering price that is no longer right, and requiring you to find another offer which is not as good.
Solution: don't advertize the item by placing a bet, buy it in last seconds, when your only competition is people who spend equally much time researching the offers.

Re:E-bay needs "overtime" bidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516899)

This is a feature Yahoo Auctions had, and buyers don't like it - because there's ALWAYS SOMEONE WILLING TO PAY MORE. It's why I stopped even browsing Yahoo, and it's why I'd not bother with ebay auctions and only look at 'buy it now' items. I place snipe bids because it allows me to win more of what I want for less. I do it manually though.

Judicial System: Redo from Start (3, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516145)

Is it any surprise the courts make these sort of decisions?

A few days ago we had an idiot judge (yes, a *judge*) suing cleaners $54M for the emotional stress of losing is pants http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2007/06/12/AR2007061201667.html?hpid=moreheadli nes [washingtonpost.com]
and hot on the heals of that we had an idiotic ruling by a U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian decreeing that RAM shall be archived. And we've got an Attorney General, the #1 lawyer in the country, who smirks "I don't recall" for hours of testimony, then goes back to work and it's business as usual.

The entire judicial legal system is an anachronism. As we've seen, it contains some very clueless (and sometimes downright stupid) people making important decisions. We've got patent law which is way out of control and anti-trust law which might as well not exist at all. The law is written for and sometimes even by corporations like the RIAA and Disney http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20020305_s prigman.html [findlaw.com] , in exchange for campaign donations http://consumerist.com/xml/comments/264638 [consumerist.com] . And lets not forget about hot cups of coffee. The entire legal system is a joke. The problem is people like Judge Pearson, Magistrate Chooljian and Attorney General Gonzales don't know it. They think they're important public officials part of a proud tradition who are loved and admired by the population they rule^H^H^H^Hserve. Suspect many people think otherwise.

Time to turf the whole thing out and start again. I mean, how much worse is this going to get?

At least Americans are lucky they don't like in the former British Empire where you get some senile git wearing a black cape and a powdered wig banging a hammer and glaring at you, and expecting to be taken seriously. "This is my court!" they thunder. If any other public servant did that in their workplace, they'd be taken away for psychiatric assessment.

Re:Judicial System: Redo from Start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516571)

"the first thing we do let's kill all the lawyers." King Henry UNIX editor (which is not Emacs!)

Re:Judicial System: Redo from Start (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516649)

"A few days ago we had an idiot judge (yes, a *judge*) suing cleaners $54M for the emotional stress of losing is pants"

This is because the US has punitive damages in the legal system. You would never see a similar lawsuit in most of Europe, because most countries only award actual damages.

I understand the idea of using punitive damages as a deterrent against people and companies not upholding their obligations and breaking regulations, but then the punitive damages should not go to the people suing them in the first place, but rather to some charity agreed between the two parties and the court.

Otherwise you get the daft mess of people misusing the legal system to sue people for millions for silly little things.

And if it isn't silly little things, but something like say losing a child through someones negligence, then by all means punish the person/company responsible, but no amount of money awarded to you personally is going to bring your child back.

Re:Judicial System: Redo from Start (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516833)

That lawsuit is mainly about the sign in the shop saying "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" he is doing so under a stupid provision under a Washington D.C> consumer protection act. If this was just about the pants he would just be eligible for the money to replace them, you could make the case for replacement of the whole suit.
The U.S. and Europe are pretty much the same with just actual costs for the loss of property, it is the punitive damages in the US that are killing them. The punitive damages laws are around in Europe they just need the scum of trial lawyers to start profiting from them, and they are starting to do that.
On the topic of property damage you do have a major difference, in most of the US the replacement cost is only for the item, in alot of places in Europe that cost also will include future profits.
For example you hit a chicken in the road and are require to pay damages. In the most of the US it would just price to replace the chicken with a comparable chicken, if that chicken was a great egg layer you would have to pay the amount to purchase a new great egg layer. In most of Europe you would have to pay replacement and future profits from that chicken, so that with that great egg layer you would have to pay for the chicken, the amount the owner is out because it will no longer lay eggs and in some cases you would have to pay an additional amount to cover the future generations that chicken will no longer produce.

Re:Judicial System: Redo from Start (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19516767)

And lets not forget about hot cups of coffee
Gah, everything else in your comment is spot on but people always bring the McCoffee thing up as an example of a frivolous lawsuit when it actually wasn't. The coffee was very hot, enough to cause serious burns (she needed skin grafts). They had previously been advised it was dangerously hot but carried on serving at that temperature. The cup it was served in was flimsy and tended to collapse when the top was taken off. In short, it was inherently dangerous to be serving at a drive-through and it was quite reasonable for the court to find them criminally negligent for doing so.

Hot Lap Coffee (2, Informative)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516907)

mod parent informative

I asked Google about the McCoffee. And it told me 300 contradictory things, including that McCoffee was drunk by whoever was on the grassy knoll and if you look closely at footage of the moonlanding, you can see a McCoffee next to a "moonrock." Then Google showed me crotch shots of celebrities getting out of limmos holding McCoffee. In the corner, an Google ad appeared saying "Buy Hot McCoffee Lap from eBay!"

So I gave up on Google and asked Snopes.com. Snopes is the original urban legends guy from the days when Internet was e-mail and news groups. Think of him as Mythbusters long before beries became unfashionable again. Snopes pointed me at this, which he claims is an accurate summary of the incident:

http://www.caoc.com/CA/index.cfm?event=showPage&pg =facts [caoc.com]

As Snopes says, the details of that case were exaggerated, but there's still a strong case for tort reform. I suspect Judge "No Pants" Pearson will be on poster. For an encore Pearson should sue himself for emotional distress for making an ass (no pun intended) out of himself.

http://www.snopes.com/legal/lawsuits.asp [snopes.com]

Re:Judicial System: Redo from Start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19517057)

Americans are lucky they don't like in the former British Empire where you get some senile git wearing a black cape

Are you sure it was that much worse? We're talking about the government that achieved the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, for christ's sake.

As we look on in disbelief, we must remember that every lawsuit, every criminal prosecution, every new prison built represents profit for the power elite who control government. There's a reason why the US government of today dwarfs the US govenrment of only 50, let alone 100 years ago, both in revenue and power over the people -- and it's not because making government bigger is unprofitable for those in the business of government.

Let's patent THIS and make money (1)

RandySC (9804) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516569)

What do you guys think about patenting something like this:

The invention uses a foot operated pedal to regulate the volumetric flow of a near stoichiometric mixture of air and petrochemicals into an internal combustion engine. The foot pedal is hinged and has a range of travel appropriate to the ability of a human to modulate the use of their foot. For the case a of handicapped human, the pedal can be substituted by a hand actuated lever.

Re:Let's patent THIS and make money (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516737)

Although I do realize you are being humorous, this is also a perfect example of why patent regulations should state that patents must be presented in non-gobbledygook. This would also make a great test for employment as a patent examiner...ask future candidates if this would be an original idea, and anyone who says "yes" is immediately disqualified from holding the job.

You gotta love third world (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516589)

for such shit like patenting something similar to a roadside label with a writing on it, only because it is translated into digitized environment, does not exist.

How about... (1)

greylingrover (876207) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516601)

"Get Now!" or "Get it Now!" ? - Or is it the actual process of clicking a button to skip an otherwise lengthier ordering/bidding/auction process that the patent locks out? "Buy Now" is so ubiquitous on the net - seems like this would be a hard one to enforce. I use an "E-Bid" function on my site for optional bids instead of the normal "Add" (to cart) button. Could "Add" or "Add to Cart" be considered skipping the bidding process, or does this only apply to the exact words "Buy Now"? I wonder if I can patent the "Play" process for all media players. ;)

How long is it going to be (2, Insightful)

simong (32944) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516707)

Before someone in say, the Trade Department, realises that every stupid patent awarded, every 10 year old summonsed by the RIAA and every stupid copyright restriction imposed or self-imposed on websites is adversely affecting the trading position of the USA in the world? It's not to say that real world issues should be ignored by the Internet but there has to be some common sense applied and less of this blind gold rush. Ebay's response could be as simple as lifting their servers and moving them somewhere where software patents don't exist, which would probably be cheaper than paying whatever stupid licencing price these parasites want to impose. It's a shame that Neal Stephenson's Kinakuta doesn't yet exist, as every big US online company that has been screwed over by the cretinous US patenting system, and every company that has fallen foul of the ridiculous protectionist policies of the current government would be falling over themselves to set up there. Anyone got a spare island?

Europe (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516751)

I've been editing a patent article for a law review for which I'm an editor. This particular article discusses European patent law, and from it I think I've learned that Europe has no business method patents and no software patents unless the software is an implementation of something that could be patentable had it been done without software (e.g., something that could be patentable if done mechanically, but because it is being done on a computer it should not be excluded from patent protection).

Are their any European lawyers out there who can verify what I've just said? I think this is a prime example of where Europe gets it right and America gets it wrong.

Note that by "Europe" i mean "The EU."

Hold your breathe!!! (0)

CriticalError (979834) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516777)

I am happy for announcing that I have the patent of breathing. then now each time that you breathe you've to pay me $0.01!!! "Breathe Now"

Please excuse me (1, Funny)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516937)

if someone else said this, for I have not read all the comments.

Howabout
"Buy it later"
"Buy it this afternoon"
"Buy it with tea and crumpets"
"But it yesterday"
"But it whenever the hell you want"
"Just don't buy it"
"Huh?"
"Don't buy this, buy my socks"
?

(ok, the last one was a reach)
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