US court confirms eBay infringed rival patent


US court confirms eBay infringed rival patent

Antony Savvas

EBay faces continuing patent infringement claims over its online trading technology after a US appeals court confirmed the validity of a patent held by a much smaller rival.

The appeals court this week re-instituted a patent held by MercExchange over the process of conducting online auctions. The claim had previously been rejected by a district court in a legal battle which began three years ago.

The court also confirmed the $25m (£13.8m) damages previously awarded against eBay before the district court hearing.

The alleged infringement of the MercExchange patent centres on eBay’s "Buy it Now" feature.

The appeals court recommended an injunction against eBay over this feature, which means eBay will either have to stop using it or develop a different way to offer the feature.

Alternatively, eBay can try and license the technology from MercExchange.

EBay claims, however, the ruling will not affect its business as it has already changed the way the feature works, but this may have to be confirmed by a further court hearing if MercExchange sues again.

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