Saturday, January 28, 2006

EFF says CAFC eBay decision "dangerous"

The EFF posted on webwire ( an article: Supreme Court Tackles Dangerous Patent Ruling which includes text:

At issue is a case involving online auctioneer eBay and a company called MercExchange. Last year, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that eBay violated MercExchange’s online auction patents and that eBay could be permanently enjoined, or prohibited, from using the patented technology. But as part of the ruling, the court came to a perilous conclusion, holding that patentees who prove their case have a right to permanent injunctions under all but "exceptional circumstances," like a major public health crisis. This radical rule created an "automatic injunction" standard that ignored the traditional balancing and discretion used by judges to consider how such a decision might affect other public interests--including free speech online.

The CAFC had noted that a court can issue a permanent injunction barring infringement of a patent once the patent is determined VALID and INFRINGED, absent exceptional circumstances. The CAFC cited to a previous case for this proposition, so that the case did NOT "CREATE" an automatic injunction standard. Note that the US Supreme Court requested briefing on a 1908 Supreme Court case (Continental Paper) so that one readily sees that the issues at stake here are not exactly new.

EFF did not mention the reference in the eBay brief to the USPTO granting patents on 97% of all applications.

Too much hysteria is associated with the eBay position.


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