Saturday, July 28, 2007

Buy it Now on eBay


I guess a lot of us have at some point in time breathed a sigh of relief when we noticed a "Buy It Now" link on a eBay item.  I have managed to reduce the uncertainty of whether I will be able to get that item or not by simply paying the buy it now price.
It is probably true that I might have ended up paying more than what I would have if I had gone ahead with an auction. However, it is also probably true that I might have ended up not getting that item.

One way to reduce the fears of the final price is by looking up the final sale prices of similar items and if they seem close to the buy it now price, it is a good idea to just but the item using this feature.  New York Times reports on  recent ruling by a judge to allow ebay to continue to use this feature - read the story here.  I hate the patent trolling firms - their only objective is to use the patent as a way to extract money from firms which end up using the technology in a useful manner. These firms are like a plague to innovation.  They don't have any intention of developing a product or a service that indeed uses this technology to benefit consumers, rather, they are just hiding in the shadows waiting for some firm to use it and then sue it for millions.  The courts need to be more discerning on how they read the law in such scenarios.  It is very easy to allege a firm of patent infringement - but what about the utility lost by not using this technology.  Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the idea of patenting and I am sure his notion of allowing patents was to enable innovators and entrepreneurs to extract rents from their ideas and creativity. It is so sad that often firms like even Microsoft have resorted to cheap tactics to stifle innovation. 

Although the ruling reported in the Times article does not in principle stop the firm that has sued eBay, at least it has does the job.  I wish courts throw out such firms in the future.  Just like, they are throwing consumers who sue the fast food firms for making them fat.  I will get to that topic sometime else.


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