The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments in a patent case involving online auctioneer eBay Inc. that is part of a wider struggle between the software and pharmaceutical industries over the future of the U.S. patent system.
Lawyers for eBay and small e-commerce company MercExchange will square off over whether eBay should be barred from using its popular “Buy it Now” feature, which infringes on two MercExchange patents.
This is of interest beyond the patent bar (and the eBay fan club), because the issue here is whether the trial court erred in refusing to award an injunction (an order requiring eBay to stop using the invention) and only awarding damages:
EBay has argued that federal judges should have more discretion to deny an injunction and instead issue a monetary award to the patent holder.
But drug makers oppose watering down the rights of patent holders. They say the right to an injunction is at the core of the U.S. intellectual property system, much like a landowner’s right to evict trespassers.