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High Court to Weigh EBay Injunction

November 29, 2005|From Reuters

The Supreme Court said Monday that it would consider an appeal by online auctioneer EBay Inc. in a case that could determine when it is appropriate to grant an injunction against a patent infringer.

EBay, found to have infringed an e-commerce patent held by MercExchange for fixed-price sales, is asking whether an appeals court erred in deciding a permanent injunction must generally be issued once infringement of a valid patent has been determined.

The justices most likely will hear arguments in the case in March or April, with a decision expected by the end of June.

MercExchange had argued against a Supreme Court review, saying the principles involved in the case were well established.

In 2003, a federal court ordered EBay to pay Great Falls, Va.-based MercExchange $29.5 million for infringing two e-commerce patents that MercExchange said were key to EBay's "Buy It Now" feature, which handles fixed-price sales -- about a third of EBay's business.

But the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to issue a permanent injunction.

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that one of MercExchange's patents was invalid and trimmed the damages against EBay to $25 million, but reversed the lower court's denial of MercExchange's request for a permanent injunction against EBay.

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