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MercExchange Triumphs Over E-Bay In E-Commerce Patent Dispute

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

08 August 2003


Ruling in Virginia this week, Federal Judge, Jerome Friedman upheld an earlier jury decision that technology employed by on-line auction site, eBay infringes patents owned by former CIA engineer, Thomas Woolston.

However he reduced the amount of damages awarded to the latter by $5.5 million to $29.5 million, and refused to grant an injunction preventing eBay from making further use of the technology, which allows customers to make online bids backed by credit cards.

Although Judge Friedman announced that there was 'no dispute' that infringement of Woolston's patent had taken place, and explained that there was evidence to suggest that the internet auction company had done so willfully, he revealed that there was not enough evidence to suggest that eBay's continued use of the technology would cause MercExchange (Woolston's company) any monetary damage, given that it has not yet managed to sell any of its e-commerce patents.

Speaking to the Washington Post on Wednesday, Woolston explained that:

'We're generally pleased that the judge saw the same case we did and the same case the jury did and he affirmed the jury's findings. We're of course disappointed that he did not stop eBay's continued infringement. But we're optimistic that eventually...there will be an injunction.'

Meanwhile, eBay's vice president for litigation, Jay Monahan, told the Post that the firm is considering launching an appeal.

'We are gratified that the court rejected MercExchange's request to increase the damages, award attorneys' fees and enter a permanent injunction,' he announced, continuing: 'Although we were pleased with this ruling, it still leaves very serious questions about the jury verdict.'


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