eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. Case Analysis

Facts of the Case

Petitioner eBay operated a popular Internet Web site that allowed private sellers to list goods they wish to sell, either through an auction or at a fixed price. Petitioner Half.com, now a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay, operated a similar Web site. Respondent MercExchange, L.L.C., held a number of patents, including a business method patent for an electronic market designed to facilitate the sale of goods between private individuals by establishing a central authority to promote trust among participants. MercExchange sought to license its patent to eBay and Half.com, as it had previously done with other companies, but the parties failed to reach an agreement. MercExchange subsequently filed a patent infringement suit against eBay and Half.com in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. A jury found that MercExchange’s patent was valid, that eBay and Half.com had infringed that patent, and that an award of damages was appropriate. Following the jury verdict, the District Court denied MercExchange’s motion for permanent injunctive relief. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed, applying its general rule that courts will issue permanent injunctions against patent infringement absent exceptional circumstances.


Did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit impose an unduly burdensome standard of review–requiring extraordinary circumstances–for granting a Certificate of Appealability (COA) for a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel?


“No. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for a unanimous Court, held that the appeals court’s general rule was an unwarranted departure from the traditional four-part test applied to determine whether an injunction is necessary. That test requires the plaintiff to prove (1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury