eBay’s legal team won two awards this year for legal excellence from a California publication called the Recorder. eBay won in the large business category for Patent Strategy and Government Affairs (aka lobbying). Editors at the legal news and analysis publication reviewed over 70 nominations to choose winners in nine different categories.
It’s not clear what will happen to the eBay’s legal and government affairs departments after the breakup of eBay and PayPal in 2015. It seems unlikely that a smaller eBay that focuses on marketplaces would be able to support a large legal team once it splits with its payments business.
It’s interesting that eBay won an award in the patent category – it had actually appealed a patent lawsuit ruling all the way to the Supreme Court in MercExchange v eBay in 2006. MercExchange had filed a lawsuit against eBay in 2001 for patent infringement, and the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether or not there should be an injunction against eBay’s Buy It Now feature. (eBay ultimately settled the case and acquired the MercExchange patents in 2008.)
In announcing the 2014 awards this month, eBay said it was a technology company and that protecting its technology through patents was fundamental to its business and future. “eBay Inc. invests significant money and resources to its patent portfolio and currently has over 4500 patents and patent applications. We are active industry leaders in patent reform legislation efforts and seek to keep processes in place that get rid of invalid patents without going through the enormous expense of patent litigation. We seek to reduce frivolous patent litigation and the expense and burden on the court system, and keep patent litigation for valid patents that will actually survive trial.”
eBay also won in the Government Affairs category, about which it said:
eBay Inc. Global Government Relations has worked with customers and stakeholders around the world to create opportunities and fight harmful policies that impact the company and the hundreds of millions of users on eBay Inc. platforms. Our team has launched several campaigns on federal Internet Sales Tax legislation to protect small tech-enabled businesses from harmful tax policy.
eBay Inc. has also created a Public Policy Lab dedicated to identifying the new public policy challenges created by the rapid convergence of technology, commerce and payments. In addition, eBay Inc. Legal/Government Relations team has been working to eliminate selective distribution policies established by some of the world’s largest brands to prevent the resale of items on eBay, hampering economic development by putting small business sellers at a disadvantage.