US Supreme Court supports eBay on patent concern

The US Supreme Court handed a victory to patent-reform advocates, ruling that a small company whose patent was infringed by eBay was not automatically entitled to a court order blocking the offending service, an Associated Press report said.

The report said the court unanimously ruled that judges had flexibility in deciding whether or not to issue court orders barring continued use of a technology after juries find a patent violation.

The decision threw out a ruling by a federal appeals court that said injunctions should be automatic unless exceptional circumstances applied, the report said.

The case, which pitted the small Virginia-based company MercExchange against San Jose-based eBay, had become a rallying point for critics of the US patent system, according to the report.

They had argued that the patent system was riddled with abuse, mainly from "patent trolls," or small businesses that sued established companies to enforce patents for ideas that had never been developed into products, the report said.