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EBay Off To Supreme Court

Apparently, eBay's "Buy it Now" feature, which lets users override the bidding process by agreeing to pay a fee set up by the seller, may belong to someone else. MercExchange, a patent holding company, recently won an injunction in a lower court that would bar the ecommerce giant from using its patented technology. EBay's appeal has reached the Supreme Court, which agreed Monday to hear the case. Meanwhile the online auctioneer will continue to use the "Buy it Now" fixed-price feature, which generates nearly a third of eBay's revenue--$3.4 billion in the third quarter. According to a Red Herring report, the Supreme Court will examine whether a court must stop a company from using a technology after it has been found to infringe on a valid patent. The alternative is to issue injunctions on a case-by-case basis. This is not the first time eBay and MercExhange have gone to court; eBay lost an injunction against the patent holding company in 2003 and had to pay $30 million for willfully infringing on two patents through its Half.com service. "We have believed all along that MercExchange--which does not practice its own patents and only exists to sue others--should not be entitled to an injunction," an eBay spokesperson said.

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