The blogs lit up last week with the news that eBay was granted US Patent 7,702,540 regarding “computer-implement method and system for conducting auctions on the internet”. Here’s the abstract.
Methods and apparatus for a system for facilitating electronic commerce transactions with a first data storage location for holding information about an item for auction from a first participant in a data packet network, a verification process that verifies the user identification of the first participant in said data packet network, the verification process confirming a user identification before allowing the participant in said data packet network access to place information about an item for auction in the system, a display process for displaying information of the item for auction to a plurality of data packet network users, the display process displaying an advertisement with the item for auction to the plurality of data packet users, an auction process for receiving bids on the item for auction from at least one of said plurality of data packet network users, the auction process also verifying a user identification from said at least one of a plurality of data packet network users before allowing receipt of the bid and a notification process for notifying the plurality of data packet network participants that said bid was accepted by said system.
It’s unclear if eBay will actually protect this patent, first filed in 1999. Speculation exists on both sides, with one camp saying that eBay will use licensing as an additional revenue source and another camp saying that eBay’s continued deemphasis of its auction model in favor of fixed prices means that they likely won’t be interested in using this patent.
How are you betting? Let us know in the comments.