eBay is being sued for a minimum of $3.8bn by a company which claims the auction house wilfully copied six of its patents.
Should eBay be found guilty of wilful and malicious infringement it would have to pay three times that or up to $11.4bn.
XPRT Ventures LLC of Connecticut claims that eBay not only stole its technology for use in online payment systems including PayPal but added insult to injury by then filing its own patents.
XPRT's lawyer Stephen Moore of Kelley Drye & Warren told IPWatchdog: "What makes this case particularly egregious is the allegation that eBay incorporated our client XPRT’s inventive concepts into one of eBay’s own patent applications without reference to XPRT’s own patent filings. Claims of this patent application were later rejected multiple times based on XPRT’s own patent applications without eBay being able to show earlier invention of such concepts."
One of the inventors, George Likourezos, claims to have held meetings with eBay to demonstrate his online payment technologies with the aim of doing a deal and getting them used on eBay's auction site. After the meeting, it is alleged, a lawyer representing eBay contacted Likourezos to ask for more documents and information which were handed over on an understanding of confidentiality and payment should eBay decide to use the technology.
Instead the same lawyer who got the information from Likourezos went on to file applications on eBay's behalf which included XPRT's technology.
The US Patent Office rejected eBay's application four times because of XPRT's patent, which was filed two years earlier.
XPRT claims that this very act proves that eBay believes the technology was patentable - otherwise it would not have attempted to file its own patent.
XPRT further claims that a confidentiality agreement signed with eBay had its date changed by an eBay lawyer.
The claims date back to when Meg Whitman was running the online tat bazaar.
eBay spin doctors told news wires they were reviewing the filing and would defend themselves vigorously.
The lawyer's full statement is available here. ®