Ebay stung by USD 30 million patent bill

U.S. District Judge Jerome Friedman has condemned Ebay to pay USD 30 million for violating a patent held by MercExchange LLC.

The patent covers the use of one of Ebay's most popular features, BIN or Buy It Now, which allows interested buyers from purchasing products or services before the auction ends.

The judge however, stopped short of demanding that Ebay removes the Buy It Now feature altogether; which has reportedly brought nearly 40 percent of eBay's revenues.

Ebay plans to appeal the reprimand in this dispute which has lasted for more than six years already.

MercExchange holds a number of vital e-commerce auction related patents such as "name a price" systems, dynamic pricing models, desktop messaging, as well as streaming and multicasting.

MercExchange is desperate to get some money from these patents; according to AP, the company has seen its number of employees dwindle from 40 to only three.

Its president is now promising to go after other e-commerce websites in a bid to get even a tiny portion of the market share.

It would be interesting to see whether a much bigger and much powerful company could take over MercExchange, giving it the necessary funds to bring in more patent money.

Ebay is also embroiled in a number of other cases; Tiffany and Co claim that the auction site does not do enough to tackle online fakes on its website and BBC's Watchdog have recently rapped the auction giant for failing to act against rogue sellers.