Even the biggest companies are not immune when it comes to litigation and patents (or should I say especially). Ebay has been the latest victim of the "you-owe-me-billions" game.
The crux of the charges now revolve around the buy it now process which allow ebayers to buy a product straight away without having to wait for the auction to finish. MercExchange sued Ebay for infringing on its patents for buy it now since 2003.
In the case of MercExchange, judges have asked themselves whether the whole case wasn't what they call a "Patent troll case" where firms specialised in patent litigations buy patents not in use - often from bankrupted firms and start infringement lawsuits against often successful companies.
These legal venture capitalists often reap hundred of millions in successful cases and from recent cases, it seems that this way of doing things is bound to become more common.
Although Open source is not immune from this kind of situation, the mere fact that open source has well defined rules - when it comes to source codes for example - shields it away from litigation to a greater degree than non-open source products.