back to article eBay whacked with giant patent suit

eBay is being sued for a minimum of $3.8bn by a company which claims the auction house wilfully copied six of its patents. Should eBay be found guilty of wilful and malicious infringement it would have to pay three times that or up to $11.4bn. XPRT Ventures LLC of Connecticut claims that eBay not only stole its technology for …

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    1. Antidisestablishmentarianist
      Flame

      Spoken like a

      true freetard.....

  1. RW
    WTF?

    @ Defex

    That lawyer-politicians should pass laws is really no surprise. Law, statutory law in particular, is what they were taught, so that's what they see as the solution to all society's problems. It's rather like chiropractors: all they know is spinal manipulation so pretty well no matter what your problem is, they see manipulation as the solution.

    I am endlessly amused when a law is passed to outlaw some newly recognized Bad Behavior, followed by self-congratulatory smiles all round by the lawyer-pols and their partners is stupidity, the bureaucrats. Passing a law agin' something has never stopped anybody from doing what they want.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Ever Been Somewhere That Was Lawless?

      Oh really?

    2. Disco-Legend-Zeke
      Pint

      When The Only Tool...

      ...you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why did XPRT sit on their hands for so long? Well...

    ...if I came up with some useful new idea and someone I showed it too stole it and built an entire (very profitable) division of their business around that idea, then I would probably wait until that division was fully mature and then go banco.

    (And strangely enough, some time ago, when there was a big fuss over fraudulent chargebacks for porn sites on credit cards, I came up with a quite probably patentable system that would have made such chargebacks nigh impossible. And as an added bonus your credit card details would not be scattered across twenty 'leven vendors of questionable provenance. This could have been me.)

    XPRT have very little to lose. And if the article is to be believed, eBay has damned itself wonderfully by making multiple filings which have all been rejected on the basis of the prior art of XPRT's patent granted two years earlier. They have a good shot at getting something out of a not too expensive fight.

    If this can be won, it can almost certainly be won by a kid with the ink still wet on his diploma and billing would damned near be court time only. And hell the sort of experience he could get out of a case like this win or lose can't be bought.

    My thoughts are that eBay should/will retroactively buy out XPRT's patent, with something substantial for goodwill. If they lose this in court eBay stands to lose a good deal more, even if the court deems the requested amount to be excessive.

  3. Sureo
    Unhappy

    Let's see...

    $3.8 Bn ... how much will Ebay/Paypal have to raise their fees to cover that?

  4. John A Blackley

    Help me out here

    What, exactly, is "an UNDERSTANDING of confidentiality and payment" (my uppercase). Does the dude have anything in writing or doesn't he?

  5. ecofeco Silver badge

    Unclear on the Concept of Ownership

    It obvious many of you are not inventors and never will be.

    I've know several small inventors who could never have successfully protected their invention form being stolen by companies with deeper pockets and more lawyers, without the help of "trolls."

    The reason it takes years to mount a theft of IP claim is because the inventor(s) often have to save up money for years and years in order to be able to hire a lawyer. And a patent protection company would not bother with lawsuits unless they thought they had a damn good chance of winning.

    The bottom line is that large companies will and DO steal from inventors who cannot afford to protect their patent. Every. Single. Day.

    Some of you are also unclear on what a "patent" means. It means you OWN the idea. Period. You don't have to implement it or sell it. But unless you can afford to protect it WILL be stolen from you and unless you are rich, there is nothing you can do about it. Contrary to popular belief, 99% of lawyers do NOT work on contingency.

    And last, the figure is high because it's going to take years to settle this and the final judgment is usually substantially less than the original claim.

    My god, many of you are in the tech sector and should know this.

    1. david wilson

      @ecofeco

      >>"My god, many of you are in the tech sector and should know this."

      Many people are in the tech sector and are deeply unconvinced about the merits of software patents.

      I think many people would sympathise in general with someone having their ideas ripped off, but think that patents should really apply to novel inventions which, without the inventor, we would likely not have had the benefit of for some time.

      For example, looking at what Paypal do, is it really meaningfully different from money transfer operators who have been around for ages, using paper, post, and telephone/telegraph?

      Someone gives them money. They take a cut, and give the remainder to someone else, along with a little bit of information as to where it came from.

      Their success seems to be far more down to having become ubiquitous than having amazing innovative technology.

    2. paulc
      Stop

      Ideas are NOT patentable...

      only the specific implementation of it... and as far as I'm concerned adding "with a computer" and/or "stored on computer readable media" does not make it patentable...

      a patent should only be awarded for something that physically exists and there is a working model available lodged with the patent office... what we're now seeing is so much obfuscation in the claims that it's nigh on impossible to work out what the actual patent is for or for one skilled in the art to reproduce it.

      Patent claims should be written in plain language and accompanied with clear instructions so that the invention which is being protected can be reproduced.

      1. Lou Gosselin

        @paulc

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/28/us_supremes_software_patent/

        I agree with you about what a patent should be, however the situation in the US is that software patents are patentable.

        Software patent monopolies are among the stupidest policies concerning the tech sector in the US.

        Seriously, I have yet to hear from a single peer who was able to solve a problem with the public information contained in patents. The majority of software developers don't have "patent protection", so insisting they're beneficial at encouraging development is a fallacy.

        Monopolies are hard enough to compete with as is, there is no need to give them exclusive rights to implementations developed by others.

  6. Jos
    WTF?

    George Likourezos?

    Would that be this one?

    http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=0&f=S&l=50&TERM1=George+Likourezos&FIELD1=&co1=AND&TERM2=&FIELD2=&d=PG01

    What, the patent for playing Bingo (20060017227 Bingo-like and trivia televison game show ), or the actual: 20090144195 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR AUTOMATICALLY REPLENISHING AN ELECTRONIC PAYMENT ACCOUNT

    Sheez, this guy has some wild variations in his patent applications...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Again with the "online tat bazaar" insult.

    The things I sell are not tat. There is tat on there, and there is good stuff as well. Is this author from the Daily Fail?

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Again with the "online tat bazaar" insult.

      Oh it's just what we've always called it. Don't take it personally, ferchrissakes.

  8. Robert E A Harvey

    Yawn

    You know what, I don't care. Dull, dull, dull.

    "Highway man mugged whilst going about his business". "landsharks do what landsharks do".

    It's sod all to do with me, and if ebay/paypal were to FOAD I would care about as much as I cared about the death of Moat.

    We need a 'yawn' icon.

  9. Philip Cohen
    FAIL

    eBay/PayPal/Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

    eBay can probably buy their way out of this little mess, so I see the real problems for PayPal coming from simply a better service from the likes of Visa/Mastercard.

    <b>Draft Media Release</b>

    “It is with very great sadness that eBay’s Chief Headless Turkey, John Donahoe (aka “Peter Principle”—among many other derogatory terms), announces the probable demise of eBay’s most ugly daughter, Pay-Pal. Pay-Pal is about to be stricken by particularly virulent strains of Visa+CyberSource and Mastercard Open Platform, aggravated by Pay-Pal’s insurmountable lack of direct financial institutions participation and a great deal of Pay-Pal user/merchant dissatisfaction, particularly with respect to Pay-Pal’s grossly unfair, “all responsibility avoiding” UA, totally primitive risk management processes, and grossly unprofessional, buyer-biased, fraud-facilitating, transactions mediation.

    “Pay-Pal’s health may therefore be expected to deteriorate and, if ultimately not completely incapacitated, will most likely be eventually confined to its mandatory offering on what little there will be by then left of the Donahoe-devastated eBay marketplaces. There is no cure for this condition, and the “eBafia Don” is particularly saddened by the inevitable presumption that it is unlikely that Pay-Pal will be able to continue to underpin eBay’s sagging bottom line in the future.”

    Also, unlike all other payments processors operating in Australia, Pay-Pal has declined to sign up to the payments processors’ “Code of Conduct”. The clear message therefrom is “users beware”!

    The fact is, had the original developers of the “bankcard” concept ever behaved the way Pay-Pal behaves, credit/debit cards would never have gotten off the ground, and we would still be paying for all our purchases with pieces of paper and little metal discs.

    A detailed examination of and prognosis for Pay-Pal (including a further link to the “Pay-Pal Horror Tour”) at:

    http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=6504554

    eBay/Pay-Pal/Donahoe: Dead Men Walking (already brain dead)

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