×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Judge Permits eBay's "Buy It Now" Feature

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the there's-still-that-25-mil dept.

The Courts 139

stalebread points to a Reuters story reporting that a federal judge refused to issue an injunction against eBay's "Buy It Now" feature. Quoting: "Judge Jerome B. Friedman of Federal District Court denied a motion by the Virginia company, MercExchange, for a permanent injunction to stop eBay from using the feature. The Supreme Court ruled last year that, although eBay infringed upon MercExchange's patent for the service, it was up to the lower court to decide whether eBay had to stop using it. 'MercExchange has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition, as MercExchange appears to possess none of these,' he wrote."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

139 comments

What they really should pass a law againts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20028645)

is ac fps!!

Ouch! (4, Funny)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028651)

'MercExchange has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition, as MercExchange appears to possess none of these,' he wrote.
Ouch!

Re:Ouch! (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028871)

Seriously. I'm glad the judge spotted their very obvious abuse of the system.

Actually, the RIAA only has one of those....

Re:Ouch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20030805)

I count two, Market Share and Name Recognition - at least among geeks I guess - maybe it doesnt among the masses. Regardless, I'd be in favour of the lower court having some sort of double ruling on the matter - mercExchange doesnt have this sword of theirs, and the RIAA is now legally obliged to go fuck themselves.

All members of the democratic jury says "I".

Re:Ouch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20030687)

Thank you, Captain Redundant.

If only... (3, Interesting)

memojuez (910304) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028671)

Is this the beginning of the end for patent trolls?

Re:If only... (1, Insightful)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030339)

No it's not. eBay won because they're a huge corporation. In the US law system it's the only thing that counts. If it were a small company or a lowly (non-rich) individual that was the prey of that patent troll, he/it would've been screwed up.

Google News has article on injunction ruling (3, Informative)

strredwolf (532) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028721)

Judge Permits eBay's "Buy it Now" feature to continue [google.com] -- 96+ articles found in Google News.

Re:Google News has article on injunction ruling (0, Offtopic)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029585)

Google News has articles about everything. Hell, by definition they have articles about everything in Slashdot since it carries Slashdot. This is +5 Informative now!?

as MercExchange appears to possess none of these.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20028729)

Knock Knock

Who's there?

Merc.

Merc Who?

MercExchange.

MercExchange Who?

I know, I know, don't let the door hit me on the way out.

Re:as MercExchange appears to possess none of thes (4, Insightful)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 6 years ago | (#20031089)

MercExchange.
MercExchange Who?
I know, I know, don't let the door hit me on the way out.
The only disturbing part of all this is that it would appear that perhaps the law favors large, recognized companies. Small companies and individuals would seem to have a substantial disadvantage under the law.

Don't get me wrong - I think patent law has been totally out of control for the last decade or more. I also think it has its place. But in all cases, I'd hope that the law would apply to everyone, and not just for the protection and benefit of the largest, wealthiest, or most highly recognized names.

This seems to be pop law. "I'm not ruling in your favor, as you're not the type of company/organization/person I think you should be, and some other things". It isn't that the law is being interpreted here - it's that a judgement is being passed on the qualities of one of the parties, without regard to the law.

Sounds like the new, crappy judicial system is coming back into town. The super-wealthy may rejoice.

This is horrible news... seriously (4, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028749)

I dislike software patents, and I dislike patent trolls. But think of the consequences of this decision: Only large companies with "market share" or a "brand name" are afforded the protection of software patents. Which only promotes the status quo by keeping all lobbists in favor of it. On the other hand, a big company can use patent law to protect their legal monopoly.

I know it's not news that laws apply differently to the rich and powerful, but I thought that at least there was a veener of similarity.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028787)

Really, in this case, it just allows everyone to use something that shouldn't be patentable.

Its as if no one could sale a cola drink because Coke patented the idea of cola. Coke can't patent cola. They can do trademarking, copyrights, patent the formula, ect... but if someone comes along and makes a product like it, its fine and dandy, and good for me cause I like Pepsi better.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (3, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028857)

I don't disagree that it shouldn't have been patented. What I disagree with is Amazon can patent something equally dumb, and it will stop me from infringing. But if I were to patent something dumb, like the idea of buying stuff with one-click, then they can infringe on my patent with impunity.

And, your example is wrong. Coke cannot patent the formula (recipe formulas, unlike mathematical formulas in the form of software algorithims, are not patentable.) And Pepsi is horrible.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028903)

Coke could have patented the formula, but then once the 20 years were up, would have to submit it to the public domain. By keeping it a secret, they've got a perpetual monopoly on that type of cola drink as long as they can keep it.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028973)

You do realize that there's something called chemical analysis. If Pepsi wanted to copy Coke, they could make an identical product. The reason they don't, is that nobody wants to be just some copycat of Coke. If you're saying that "our product is the same as Coke", then you're admitting that Coke is the best, and everyone will continue to buy Coke. By creating copycat products, you validate the competitors product. Pepsi is better off saying that their product is better than Coke. Coke tried this when they came out with "New Coke". They tried to make it taste more like Pepsi. They lost the Coke drinkers, because they didn't want Pepsi, and the Pepsi drinkers stayed with Pepsi because they wanted real Pepsi, not some Coke knock-off.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (0, Offtopic)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029195)

Ahh, but Pepsi isn't the enemy here. It's small supermarket soda makers.

If Generic Publix Soda tastes exactly like coke, why pay more money for the coke when you can just buy Publix soda and have it taste exactly the same?

They can even market it that way. "The same great taste at a quarter the price!"

But apparently they don't, because store-brand soda *SUCKS*.

-Z

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

paitre (32242) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029403)

I dunno, safeway's Dr Pepper analogue is actually decent, and considering that we're up to $4/12 for the name-brand crap on -sale- in my area, I'm gonna drink the 2.50/12 stuff instead.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

sohare (1032056) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029583)

More importantly, does anyone actually drink any of those high fructose corn syrup blends? I always thought it was a big urban legend, like people putting their wet dogs in the microwave to dry out.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030965)

If you're saying that "our product is the same as Coke", then you're admitting that Coke is the best, and everyone will continue to buy Coke. By creating copycat products, you validate the competitors product.
yeah, see how well that worked with people "pirating" movies/software in asia. "oh look, their product is the same as but 1/100th the cost, but the fact it's the same validates me paying 100x as much for the genuine article!"

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20030105)

you cannot patent recipes, so no they couldnt. no recipe for food can be patented, its all trade secrets.
if these companies could patent them they would, its why while working on new candies they get very secretive so another company doesnt steal them and sell it first...
heck its why oh awhile back on slashdot when publishers where making that big fuss about places like amazon allowing you to preview pages from a book main arguemnet was "cook books have recipes and they can copy those recipes and use them without buying the book because there is no protection afforded to them outside of trade secrets"

maybe its cuz i work with this all the time that i know this crap, companies might like you to believe otherwise(and they would) but recipes can not be patented. though i bet they are working on getting that changed...

Oblig. Hide and Creep (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20028945)

Waitress: And to drink?
Chuck: Coke
Waitress: Pepsi okay?
Chuck: Pepsi. Is Pepsi okay? No. No, my dear lady, Pepsi is not okay. Look, I don't mean to be rude here but let me school you on something. See, Pepsi, this so-called choice of a new generation, is nothing but a charlatan, a fraud, an imposter. See, the Pepsi corporation, through years of slick advertising using glitzy popstars and pseudo-scientific research, have somehow conviced the public that their product is as good as, if not better than, Coke. Coke, however, is the original cola based carbonated beverage. The original real thing. That is what I want.
Waitress: All we have is Pepsi.
Chuck: You know, I've been somewhere else where they don't let you decide what you want to drink: Red China.

Re:Oblig. Hide and Creep (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029201)

It's true! http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/cokelore.asp [snopes.com] No Pepsi page on Snopes. Pepsi might be the knockoff, but it is the knockoff above all others.

I prefer Coke, I do not like the diet Coke brand(s), to me they taste like Pepsi.

Re:Oblig. Hide and Creep (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029283)

Diet Coke was made to taste like New Coke, which was made to tast like Pepsi.

Re:Oblig. Hide and Creep (1)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030331)

It's the other way around. Diet Coke pre-dated (New) Coke. (New) Coke was the Diet Coke formula with sugar instead of aspartame.

Interestingly, the new Coca Cola Zero is the complete opposite of (New) Coke: it's the Coca-Cola Classic formula with aspartame instead of sugar.

Re:Oblig. Hide and Creep (1)

Remusti (1131423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20031213)

I actually liked coke vanilla... no idea why they got rid of that one.

Re:Oblig. Hide and Creep (1)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 6 years ago | (#20031365)

Most likely because it didn't bring enough sales to justify keeping it going. When you're the biggest sugar water company in the world, it makes no financial sense to bring yourself the additionnal overhead of having multiple similar products when you already make plenty of dough with the flagship product alone. And they know very well that changing their flagship product would cause mass hysteria since it already happened once.

(BTW I liked it too)

Re:Oblig. Hide and Creep (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029707)

You know, I've been somewhere else where they don't let you decide what you want to drink: Red China.

They got an Olympia Cafe [jt.org] there, too?

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20028833)

I disagree - this means that companies with large patent portfolios and no products can't just go around making a business of lawsuits. This is a good thing.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

HitekHobo (1132869) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028835)

The patent system is ridiculously abused. Patent a process, not an idea. And when we're done with patent reform, can we please stop extending copyrights indefinitely?

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029723)

Patent a process, not an idea.

No, no, no. Patent a machine, not a process nor an idea.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (3, Insightful)

MJOverkill (648024) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028839)

Not really.

Firstly, the Judge said that MercExchange has no apprechiable market presense at all. Any small business catering to even a small following of loyal customers has market presense. Considering that we've never even heard of MercExchange before this case came out, I doubt they have any reasonable percentage of the market (there is probably a case defined percentage used to measure this).

Secondly, E-Bay has had this feature for years. If MercExchange was really trying to protect something so vital to their business as to require an injunction, they should have filed years ago.

Thirdly, 80% of business in North America is considered 'small business'. Large corportations only make up the majority in small, niche markets where the cost of entry bars smaller entities from entering the market. I'm wlling to bet that you have never heard of the market leaders in most sectors of the economy, because they are not large enough to spend millions building a brand name. You don't have to be big to be in the market.

This ruling is entirely fair, and long overdue.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (3, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028911)

Secondly, E-Bay has had this feature for years. If MercExchange was really trying to protect something so vital to their business as to require an injunction, they should have filed years ago.
From the fine article:

"In a mixed outcome, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in the nearly six-year-old case..."
 

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

MJOverkill (648024) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030355)

Exactly, it's been six years and MercExchange cannot show that is has received enough harm to warrent injunction from this point on. I did read the article.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

MJOverkill (648024) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030363)

Sorry, let me be clear before I get jumped on. What I meant in my post was they should have filed the injunction six years ago, not the case.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (4, Informative)

ozric99 (162412) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028993)

Secondly, E-Bay has had this feature for years. If MercExchange was really trying to protect something so vital to their business as to require an injunction, they should have filed years ago.
What? This battle has been going on for years. Ebay first approached MercExchange in 2000 offering to purchase the patent(s) they were about to infringe upon. MercExchange refused their offers, Ebay went ahead with their plans anyway. MercExchange filed suit againast Ebay in 2001 and won the lawsuit in 2003.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (4, Insightful)

lakeland (218447) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028849)

It is an interesting question but I disagree with you.

The judge has said that to have a patent being enforced, you must be showing goodwill efforts towards bringing a patent to market. That doesn't cut out small startups, all it cuts out (apart from patent trolls) are defensive patent portfolios and small research houses which attempt to develop and then sell ideas. I think they will be able to adapt to this - show they've sold other patents perhaps. Defensive patent portfolios ... well, they're mainly to stop small players and patent trolls - I think weakening them is not such a bad idea.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (2, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028861)

Only large companies with "market share" or a "brand name" are afforded the protection of software patents.


That's not how I read tis. A small software company has a brand name and a market share, just like the big boys, and that's just as entitled to protection. What this decision seems to say is that if you're not making use of a patent, you're not entitled to protect it. The US patent system is almost out of control and this might be a sign the courts are starting to do what's needed to get it back under control. If you can't enforce a patent that you're not even trying to use, patent trolling will come to an end. I suspect that without trolling there will be far, far fewer patent applications, because there won't be a reason to patent everything you can think of just on the off chance that somebody, sometime might infringe it.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

newsblaze (894675) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029029)

I think the judge's comment means they did it only to get money, not to protect something they were using, not that only big companies can make claims. Its ambiguous. And that ahouldn't have been patentable anyway, just like the Amazon one click.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (3, Insightful)

Dak RIT (556128) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029125)

I think you're misreading the judges comment. The judge clearly stated that 'MercExchange has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market share, reputation, good will, or name recognition', which means that, while market share is one possible valid reason to exercise patent rights, it is by no means a requirement (which is why the judge used the word 'or' and not 'and' when listing possible reasonable uses).

Reputation, good will, and name recognition cover quite a lot of additional ground. I don't think this should be the ultimate test for acceptable patent use as laid out in this case, but I think the judge came to the correct decision in the case, and at least has made strides towards a more reasonable patent test.

That said, it would be nice to see more done to undermine 'obvious' patents.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (2, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029831)

Small companies have market share: they have a small market share.

The judge is saying that this company has no market share at all. It does not use the patent itself, so it is unfair to stop Ebay from using the patented idea, becuase Merc Exchange suffer no loss as a result of Ebays use.

Please note this only affects the injunction: Merc Exchange still gets damages.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029933)

But eBay is a Golliah, so taking them on would be nigh impossible. On the other hand, if yours was the only online auction site that offered "Buy It Now" type functionallity, you might be able to eke out a percentage of the market.

So, the real question is, if they licensed it exclusivly to one of eBay's competitors, would they then be able to get an injunction?

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#20031409)

But eBay is a Goliath, so taking them on would be nigh impossible.

Ridiculous. How many megabuck patent suits has Microsoft lost?

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030473)

How are you supposed to gain market share or establish a brand name if someone else is permitted to infringe upon your legal patent and utilize technology that has been defined as yours? How much market share is necessary? What brand names are significant and which are not? If the manufacturers of Sparkle paper towels patented something, would there be any reason to prevent Bounty, Brawny, or Scott from simply copying them? Should Subaru stop wasting more money on further innovation for fear of Toyota stealing it because the former has not yet been able to market it? Where is this leeway written into the law? I'm certainly no fan of patent trolls, but if some entity is able to obtain a patent, shouldn't they be afforded all of the legal protections that are supposed to come with said patent? If not, did the patent infringer make a good-faith effort to purchase the technology before claiming it? Maybe Merc were just slow to market, which is not supposed be something that voids a patent. I admit I did not RTFA, and that I'm not especially concerned for this company in particular, but this doesn't look like a good precedent.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030863)

Now you are whining. Patent something non-obvious and useful, and you will gain market share. If you do something called WORK.

I don't think you're interpreting this right. (3, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030573)

The injunction wasn't denied JUST because it wasn't a big company. It was denied because:

- MercExchange was not using the technology, AND
- MercExchange had never used the technology, AND
- MercExchange had no plans to use the technology, AND
- MercExchange had never licensed the technology, AND
- MercExchange had no plans to license the technology.

This ruling doesn't say you have to be a big company with a brand reputation to get an injunction. If, for example, you had sold an exclusive license to another company, you would still get your injunction. But, if you were going to patent something, then do nothing with it until someone else did, then when they do you sue them and demand that they stop, the judge is going to say no, force the infringer to pay you, and that's the end of it. 'Inventor' gets paid, infringer stays in business providing the service the inventor never had any intention of providing themselves anyway, and consumer gets to purchase the service. Everybody wins, but the patent troll doesn't get an inordinately large payment by holding an entire business hostage.

Re:This is horrible news... seriously (1)

simplerThanPossible (1056682) | more than 6 years ago | (#20031133)

I read it as intention (that's the sword vs. shield part). You could have tiny market, brand name etc. ie. Something rather than absolutely nothing. And then your motivation is protection (ie. a shield). Merk wasn't trying to protect it.

Oh yes (4, Funny)

wamerocity (1106155) | more than 6 years ago | (#20028865)

Boy, I remember the good ole' days when the Old Fashioned American Lottery used to be as simple as being a lawyer and waiting in the emergency room to find people that were hurt in accidents.

We have become so much more complicated these days, where now we take simple ideas that are difficult to work around like using the letter "i" or the "click" and suing people that use them for large amounts of money.

Re:Oh yes (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029489)

We have become so much more complicated these days, where now we take simple ideas that are difficult to work around like using the letter "i" or the "click" and suing people that use them for large amounts of money.
Or rather the laws have become so complex that common sense can be bypassed by obscure combinations of clauses and loopholes.

- RG>

Obvious? (4, Interesting)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029023)

Why isnt anyone involved in this case pointing out that a patent has to be non-obvious? Is there something I am missing here? Legally that patent shouldnt be worth poop. At least in theory.

Re:Obvious? (3, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029393)

Why isnt anyone involved in this case pointing out that a patent has to be non-obvious? Is there something I am missing here? Legally that patent shouldnt be worth poop. At least in theory.
As I understand it, the "non-obvious" part applies only to prior art, i.e. if someone skilled in the art would also seize upon the same solution naturally, given the starting point of prior art upon which the patent has been built. The trouble we have is that the USPTO only considers it "prior art" if it has been previously patented. This causes trouble when you're dealing with crap like this that has no patented prior art because it shouldn't have been patented in the first place.

Re:Obvious? (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030025)

The recent Supream court ruling on obvious combinations may give strength to the obviousness claim. Almost any B-or-higher graduate in computer science can build a functioning Buy-It-Now button, and this can be tested. It is dumb to allow the patenting of goals. Only implimentations should be patentable.

Re:Obvious? (1)

amber_of_luxor (770360) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030399)

Almost any B-or-higher graduate in computer science can build a functioning Buy-It-Now button,

Not to mention that a book published circa 1997 describes how to implement it in PERL, using a text file as a database.

Amber

Re:Obvious? (3, Informative)

kansas1051 (720008) | more than 6 years ago | (#20031429)

The trouble we have is that the USPTO only considers it "prior art" if it has been previously patented.

MercExchange's patent was found non-obvious by the trial court during the law suit. You are 100% wrong regarding what evidence can be presented to show that an invention is obvious. Both a federal court and the USPTO can consider any evidence available to one skilled in the art, which includes any publicly-accessible information. If you do some searching, you'll discover that its common for patent examiners to use archive.org to reject patent applications.

I'll even provide a link [uspto.gov] from the MPEP (the manual used by the patent office) for you.

eBay's true response to the ruling? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20029043)

Great court, fast ruling, judge RECOMMENDED A+++++++

Re:eBay's true response to the ruling? (2, Funny)

labnet (457441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20031013)

Highly recommended /. comment. Best Ever. WOULD MOD FUNNY A++++.

Constitution vs patent trolling (3, Interesting)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029229)

The Constitution of the United States gives Congress the power to enact laws relating to patents, in Article I, section 8, which reads "Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." [uspto.gov]

The Constitution _only_ grants power to congress to establish patents for the promotion of the progress of science and useful arts. As far as I'm concerned, it is outside constitutional allowances for the government to enforce patents for other purposes, like protecting financial interests of companies that do not promote the progress of science and useful arts.

Re:Constitution vs patent trolling (2, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029537)

You're taking a very narrow view.

The Constitution is effectively saying that it is within the powers of Congress to enact laws regarding patents and copyright, if Congress believes that by doing so it will promote the progress of science and useful arts.

The fact there may be unintended consequences and side effects to such laws is not within the remit of the Constitution. Protecting financial interests of patent holders, whether companies or individuals, however is a raison d'etre for patents, since by making an invention public, someone hopes to make money.

What and How, not Why and What. (1)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029943)

You are reading that wrong. The phrase "The Congress shall have power ... to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" is answering the what and how, not the why and what.

What can they do?
They can "promote the progress of science and useful arts."
How can they do that or by what means are they authorized to do that (since the document is stating the powers the the people are delegating to the Congress)?
Answer - They are authorized to provide for "securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

It is not answering the questions like you have read them.
What can they do? They can provide for "securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."
Why can they do that? In order "to promote the progress of science and useful arts." This "what" isn't telling Congress what power is being delegated to them.

Re:Constitution vs patent trolling (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029957)

The fact there may be unintended consequences and side effects to such laws is not within the remit of the Constitution.
I do agree with this. However, when Congress is aware that these unintended consequences and side effects are becoming the norm (see also the article a few days ago saying patents are no longer profitable across most industries), there should be a call to reform. Yes, there is some reform in the way of whether or not patents that are either obvious or too abstract are slipping through, but reform for the problem of patent trolls AFAIK would be a completely separate movement, refocusing patents toward progress.

Protecting financial interests of patent holders, whether companies or individuals, however is a raison d'etre for patents, since by making an invention public, someone hopes to make money.
I don't think that the constitution says this. The raison d'etre for patents is to progress science and the useful arts. The mechanism of financial incentive of exclusivity for a (supposedly) short time is an artifact of trying to reach that goal.

It's really a damn shame (4, Funny)

wamerocity (1106155) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029235)

that people like this have continued to ruin this market.

Somehow, somewhere, patent trolls have lost their way. They seem to have forgotten what trolling means, what stifling innovation meant, what shitting-on-the-little guy was all about. It's not just about making a patent that you can sue and make money offer, and about sticking it to every one else who found a way to actually make that profitable...

I swear, it's really a damn shame...

The article is obviously fake.. (3, Funny)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029307)

Common sense and judicial decisions regarding patent trolls are like matter and anti-matter; they can't exist in the same universe.

They should trash it anyway (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029485)

Buy It Now, when it was introduced years ago, marked the beginning of the slow and painful death of ebay as THE auction site on the internet. Now it's all a bunch of buy-it-now crap from fronting retailers, the real people are all gone.

Fuck Buy It Now. It's not worth the patent it's written on.

Re:They should trash it anyway (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030089)

Buy It Now, when it was introduced years ago, marked the beginning of the slow and painful death of ebay as THE auction site on the internet. Now it's all a bunch of buy-it-now crap from fronting retailers, the real people are all gone.

Please clarify. It just means that Ebay is a hybrid auctioneer and store hoster.
       

Re:They should trash it anyway (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030681)

About the only things I bother with on eBay these days are Buy It Now. Their auction system is so fundamentally flawed that it's not worth bothering with.

The patent is BS (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029517)

Buy it now. Hey, sounds like something I do at a store everyday. I walk in, look around, pick an item, pay, and it's mine.

Patenting a method to do the same thing online is bullshit. There should be no patents on methods of paying for something. In person, online, either way, you're buying it now.

Re:The patent is BS (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030145)

Buy it now. Hey, sounds like something I do at a store everyday. I walk in, look around, pick an item, pay, and it's mine.

In that case, you are next on our list. See you in court, Mr. K. Hyber. Thank you for informing us. -MercExchange

     

Re:The patent is BS (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030701)

It's even closer than you might think, since (at least, under UK law) the marked price is just an invitation to trade, so you can still make a bid that is lower than it. In large chain stores, there might be very few people who are allowed to accept lower bids, but in smaller shops you can often get a bargain by bidding rather than accepting the buy it now price.

$25 Million (1)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 6 years ago | (#20029535)

I like how everyone has ignored that this little ass nothing company still managed to suck $25 million out of Ebay. The MercExchange people were stupid. They should have started their own auction site at the very least and then waited a few years and THEN cried foul. The judge saw that the company technically did nothing and saw no reason to stop eBay from using the patent, as MercExchange certainly was not using it. Oh, and fuck FeeBay. They had one of the best things going, but they shat upon their sellers time and time again until all the good people left or were suspended for no reason. I think I am going to patent how to run an organization evily and then sue paypal for stealing my business model. :)

Re:$25 Million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20029861)

Yeah, but then they'll cite Prior Art (their existance) and you'll lose.

Re:$25 Million (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030107)

I think I am going to patent how to run an organization evily and then sue paypal for stealing my business model.

Microsoft has prior art.
     

Eolas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20030097)

I see some darn positive reactions to this decision. I wonder if those same people would have reacted the same if the same decision had fallen in another case - Eolas vs. Microsoft.

Eolas was virtually unknown until that case, they didn't use the patented method themselves, and they only sued one company (the one with the biggest bucks) as if they knew they wouldn't get much money out of it anywhere else, so the circumstances are pretty much the same.

Right now I'm wondering if this decision isn't a sword that cuts on both edges, if MS would decide to countersue or appeal (I don't know whether they did or didn't already do so, or whether an appeal is [still] possible).

Re:Eolas? (1)

Weedlekin (836313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030423)

"I wonder if those same people would have reacted the same if the same decision had fallen in another case - Eolas vs. Microsoft."

I was completely against the Eolas vs. MS decision, because it showed Microsoft and other big companies with armies of lawyers and effectively limitless war chests that patenting anything they can think of, even if they have no plans to use it, is an excellent way of stifling potential competitors. Big companies armed with a portfolio of even the most dubious software patents can thus keep smaller companies locked in litigation for years, which is not only expensive, but also means that time and effort which could have been spent on making and marketing products is being effectively wasted.

People who are celebrating this decision because it pulls the teeth of some patent trolls are therefore missing the fact that by doing so, it's actually making the life of giant corporate trolls easier, because they don't have to worry about being stung by patent-only companies who have nothing to lose. Few judges would argue if the likes of Microsoft _claimed_ they were developing a product which incorporated whatever patents they wanted to use against Smallguy Software Inc., and Smallguy's lawyers have no effective way of showing that they aren't, so their system of using quantum entanglement to transmit vast volumes of information between computers instantaneously without a network ends up effectively being squashed by BigCorp's patent on "a method of using stored instructions to make computers do the same stuff lots of times".

Just wondering (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030099)

Can they get around the patent by making it a "Buy It In Few Minutes" button? I also noticed the patent mentioned using a relational database. Just use an OOP database or IBM's IMS database to get around it. It may cost more do to such, but cheaper than paying Mercexchange.

Beowulf Cluster of Lawsuits (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030165)

Imagine the lawsuits that would be generated by "One-Click Buy It Now" buttons.

Re:Beowulf Cluster of Lawsuits (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030841)

I have already patented the "One-click lawsuit". You have been warned.

"Sue Me Now" (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030245)

If you are an e-commerce website, you might as well include a "Sue Me Now" button to get it over with faster, because patent trolls are nailing them pretty hard.
     

Re:"Sue Me Now" (1)

lloy0076 (624338) | more than 6 years ago | (#20030729)

Oi, I've already come up with that idea and if you even THINK of doing it, I'll sue you for my having done nothing about it! /me oh la la
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...