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Tue Apr 20 2010 22:13:09

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

By: Ina Steiner

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Bloggers broke the news on Tuesday that the U.S. Patent Office granted eBay an auction patent, '540. But it was Tom Woolston of MercExchange who filed the patent application in 1999, the inventor with whom eBay fought a vicious battle for years, taking a patent dispute all the way to the Supreme Court in 2006. eBay finally acquired the patents and all related intellectual property from Woolston in 2008, ending the battle. It never disclosed the purchase price.

Bloggers are speculating that eBay might attempt to wield its newly granted patent against competing auction sites, a move that would be the ultimate irony given eBay's battle with Woolston.

Here are some reasons why auction sites may not have to worry:

1) eBay has yet to challenge competitors on any of its portfolio of auction and fixed-price patents, including '051, an auction patent granted to Woolston in 2001 and acquired by eBay in 2008.

2) When Meg Whitman was CEO, eBay lawyers and outside counsel were well fed, but her replacement John Donahoe, a management consultant from Bain, has been slashing budgets and staff. Does he really want to spend money to defend auction technology, when that's not his focus? eBay shut down its live-auction division and has been concentrating on its fixed-price business.

3) Donahoe's strategy relies on PayPal growth, not the eBay marketplaces business, and many of eBay's competitors accept PayPal as a payment method from shoppers (Overstock Auctions, eBid.net, Delcampe, Etsy, Alibris, Bonanzle,...). Also, given a democratic administration in Washington, he's unlikely to want attention drawn to activity that could possibly be construed as antitrust - eBay is already seen as monopolistic by some, and PayPal does not want to draw the attention of regulators.

eBay could demand auction sites license its patent technology. But because eBay dominates online auctions, it's hard to see much of a revenue stream from such a move.




Comments (22) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: ebay nonsense

Tue Apr 20 22:35:19 2010

JD couldn't possibly be foolish enough to make accepting PP on off ebay sites a headache for those sites or their owners, could he? :o

If he did try something he'd see a mass migration to Google Checkout, Merchant Accounts and anything but Paypal. Paypal is already losing major players due to the illegal rolling reserves on their virtual terminals.

Remember, PP isn't a bank, they're just playing one in the USA and they've already overstepped the line with the illegal 21 day holds.
None of their per state required licenses allow for 21 day holds.

What's with these big corporations?
When they get rich enough they think that rule of law doesn't apply to them?

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Pat

Tue Apr 20 22:35:25 2010

I hope Bonanzle isn't planning on adding auctions...

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: eBuyer Feedback This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Apr 20 22:40:54 2010

Sounds like a good strategy would be to offer licenses to this technology on condition of accepting PayPal or requiring PayPal be ''recommended'' by the competing company.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: zztopshlf

Wed Apr 21 01:42:25 2010

'' Also, given a democratic administration in Washington, he's unlikely to want attention drawn to activity that could possibly be construed as antitrust - eBay is already seen as monopolistic by some, and PayPal does not want to draw the attention of regulators.''

Huh? The Donahoe's are in pretty good with the Obama administration, especially the Mrs. Can you say campaign dollars, fundraising, and ambassadorships?

That's why I laugh when all these folks think that the Dems are going to go after Ebay and Donahoe. Bought and paid for.....

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Meg Whitman's Pool Boy

Wed Apr 21 05:00:39 2010

Bonanzle? Don't make me laugh. They're nothing but a bunch of wannabes.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: SleepyTime

Wed Apr 21 05:16:37 2010

A day before the Ebay 2010 Q1 Financials - What a great time for bloggers to leak this information.  Is the Ebay PR machine at it again?

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Renagade
Web Site

Wed Apr 21 05:23:09 2010

This will be Interesting to watch and see just what eBay will do.

To weld the patent like a sword and attempt to shutdown other auctions sites would be a bad move.  Not only is Paypal used on the other sites, it is often the preferred means of payment.
Not to mention the bad PR from the big bully stomping down on the little guy.

I sincerely hope eBay has some faith in the Free Market and realize competition can only make a business strive to do better.
If not and they succeed in shutting down the other auction sites, that will only hurt their bottom line, when buyers shun them for the marketplaces such as Bonanzle, Addoway, eCrater, and Amazon and other means to pay such as GoogleCheckout.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Julie

Wed Apr 21 05:27:56 2010


Does this mean google will never start google auctions now, if they ARE thinking of doing it?

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: fat frog

Wed Apr 21 06:23:13 2010

If anyone thinks that Ebay is just going to tuck this away in a safe somewhere is a fool.

Ebay has already proven that it will do anything that they think will improve the buyer experience.

As a business ebay only has one goal and thats the bottom line. The don't have to be touchy feelie as some of you would like. They don't have to be nice, pretty, or morally ethical. As long as wall street and the board are happy, not even the stockholders can do anything about HO and Co.

Remember this is a company with tons of money that doesn't even pay a dividend to their stockholders and you people think they care about you. Why would they??? Don't think you are needed just because you have a 100% feedback and great DSR's. They don't make money off you. Its the BIG sellers, with the big sales that make money for ebay.

The small seller is like the crumbs from a chocolate cake. The Ho just sweeps them into the garbage.

I've said all along if any of those other sites get to big ( they have a long way to go right now ) Ebay will have them for breakfast.

Ebay is the KING of auction sites and if you don't like the rules they don't care if you leave or not. Its your choice.

If you keep your chickens in the same hen house and a fox gets in you starve. Its your choice.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Marvin This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 21 07:01:43 2010

You can't patent ''Auction'' only a way of conducting one. Auctions have been around for centuries, live, mail, phone . . .  just about any form you can imagine. Auctions have been conducted through telegraph and telegram. In the early days of online auctions were conducted through bulletin boards.

There are tons of auction software that have been in the public domain since the very beginning of the internet (and some prior to that). Existing knowledge can be improved on but not removed from public domain.

ebay patent not really important, any one can still do online auctions. Why would anyone in their right mind want to copy ebays way of doing anything? To enforce a patent could expose some deep dark, ugly and embarrassing secrets.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Final Nail in the Coffin

Wed Apr 21 08:06:34 2010

Hopefully this will squash anymore talk about Google starting an auction site and being the "savior" of the small seller. This is a nice patent to have in pocket. Even if they never sell a licence, it will give second thought to any site considering an online auction format. Wonder how eBid is feeling this morning.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Apr 21 08:33:00 2010

Time for someone to patent the process of holding money for no reason, and cheating people by charging them more money for less service.

Put a patent on monetarily penalizing people on anonymous reviews.

Beat PayPal and eBay at their own corrupt practices.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: JD

Wed Apr 21 13:26:00 2010

Bonanzle SUCKS

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Doris Knight

Wed Apr 21 14:48:20 2010

I kinda like Bonanzle. :-) It took me awhile to discover them, and a little while longer before I decided to list on their site.

After all, it costs me nothing to list. The fees are lower and simpler...and there are no idiotic DSR's.

I'm not an auction seller, so even though Bonanzle doesn't offer auctions, it still suits my needs. True, they are smaller than eBay, but I'm willing to invest a little time in creating new listings and test the waters.

Even if my sales at Bonanzle are slow, it's ANOTHER income stream that I didn't have before...so it's all good.

Perhaps my presence over there (and any others who join me) will help to create a snowball effect. --- More sellers leads to more buyers, which leads to more sellers...and so on.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: buck efay

Wed Apr 21 14:56:39 2010

The only thing this does is set Ebay's STUPID way of doing auctions in stone. Anyone that knows how a REAL auction works could have done it better than Pierre. For example, end time is extended when there are still bidders within a certain amount of time before close of item. Outbid notifications that allow time to reply. If I was planning on running an auction, I'd look at their flow chart & do everything different screw them. This patent is as useless as John Doanhoe, no matter what these Cheerliars above say. Anything to distract away from the HORRIBLE DESTRUCTION OF EBAY that the moron JD put in place.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Troglodyte

Wed Apr 21 15:05:45 2010

It seems that Fat Frog's phraseology today and in previous posts is remarkably similar to some ebay plants we've suffered here from time to time.

Whatever Donahoe does with it, the one certainty is that it won't benefit sellers.

Trolls belong under bridges out of sight and most definitely out of mind.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: buck efay

Wed Apr 21 15:09:13 2010

PS, I've already forwarded this to my buddy that built the Spiderman ride for Universal Studios. Just curious what workarounds he can come up with, hahaha! Great thing is, Ebay already set up bad legal precedents for themselves in this case, and in the skype case, since they have admitted to stealing & using other's patents wrongfully for years.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: Fruity This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 21 15:18:31 2010

If ebay wants to go down that road, bring it! I guarantee you it will be a tipping point where everyone will say, it's time to take what feeds Ebay, Inc to put them in their place. And that will be paypal.

In fact, well. Maybe we should just start now with this current administration because if you are waiting in the bushes ready to unleash.. we might as well start now

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: buck efay

Wed Apr 21 15:31:33 2010

Let them try. The legal precedent is generally 9 points of difference. Ebay's auction patent is a joke, looks like a fifth grader drew that flow chart. And Ebay will have to pay Defendant's legal fees when they lose. There's a lot of big players doing online auctions at their sites now. JD cannot afford to piss them off. All they have to do is go after the right connected guy & they will get the investigation & regulation they are so desperately trying to avoid for Paypal & the counterfeit/bootlegging investigation they so richly deserve. I find it amazing they have been the biggest seller of bootleg DVDS & CDS in the world, and the RIAA has never gone after them. Perhaps a flood of complaints to: http://www.riaa.com/
Tell them it will be a better use of their time then trying to hurt individuals. Go after a company sitting on $4 BILLION in assets.

Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?   Will eBay Wield Newly Granted Auction Patent?

by: buck efay

Wed Apr 21 21:51:16 2010

Here's another useful link for reporting BOOTLEG DVDS on Ebay:
http://www.mpaa.org/
Flood them with complaints.

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