Monday, November 28, 2005

SCOTUS to hear eBay appeal re when injuctions for patent infringement are warranted

The Supreme's are going to take a look at patent warehousing and when injunctions for infringement are appropriate. I'm not very knowledgeable about patent law, but I know there is lots of discussion among patent-types concerning how patents are being used offensively in an unfair manner -- some companies register patents soley to possess the rights to the technology and then sue companies that use similar technology. This is how I understand it: when a court decides an injunction against a potential infringer is warranted that infringer is essentially hostage to the claimant if the technology is necessary to their business model, leading to big payouts in cases where the infringement is not always clear.

WaPo: Supreme Court Will Hear eBay Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that it would consider an appeal by online auctioneer eBay Inc. in a case that could determine when it is appropriate to grant an injunction against a patent infringer.
Experts said the case would give the Supreme Court a chance to define when an injunction should apply and comes as the patent community is debating to what extent patent holders who do not intend to practice their inventions should be allowed to extract profitable licenses from others.
The eBay case has attracted interest among those who believe it has become too easy to hold businesses hostage through patent suits.

A group of 35 patent law professors filed a friend of the court brief arguing that an entitlement to an injunction allows unscrupulous patent owners to threaten products that are predominantly noninfringing. A computer chip, they noted, may include 5,000 different inventions.


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