High Court Sides with eBay

eBay has won a major battle in its patent infringement case against MercExchange, with the Supreme Court unanimously ruling to set aside a judgment by a lower court that a federal judge was required to issue an injunction as soon as a company is found to be using another's technology.

The Justices ruled that a judge is at liberty to look at several factors before deciding on an injunction after a jury verdict. Experts said that any decision from the high court will likely have ramifications in future cases, and argued that it could be one of the most significant patent fights in recent times.

eBay was found guilty by jury of violating MercExchange's patents through its "Buy It Now" feature. A federal appeals court at the time awarded patent owner MercExchange $25 million in damages and granted a permanent injunction against eBay that would bar the site from using the feature.

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Since then, the U.S. Patent Office has overturned the patent that the ruling was based on, upholding an earlier decision that a patent awarded to MercExchange was "obvious" and should have not been issued.

Even though the Supreme Court ruling gives eBay some breathing room, the case is by no means over. The appeals court will now take a second look at the case, and decide whether an injunction is necessary. Thus, there still is the possibility that eBay may lose the case in the end.

"We are extremely gratified by the Supreme Court's unanimous decision," said Jay Monahan, eBay's Deputy General Counsel, Intellectual Property. "The trial judge originally found in this case that money was sufficient, and denied an injunction. We are confident that when the District Court revisits this issue, particularly in light of the ongoing reexamination of the patents, that the result will be the same."

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