The Buzz: June 2, 2003

A federal jury in Virginia ruled last week that eBay's fixed-price selling model infringes on a patent and ordered the online auction company to pay $35 million.

eBay Ordered to Pay $35 Million in Dispute

A federal jury in Virginia ruled last week that eBays fixed-price selling model infringes on a patent and ordered the online auction company to pay $35 million.

Patent law experts said the ruling may force eBay to drop, a discount e-market, and its Buy It Now features, which offer fixed-price options on eBays main auction site. About a third of eBays merchandise can be purchased for a fixed price.

Jurors ruled for MercExchange, which claimed that its founder, Thomas Woolston, filed three patent applications for programs and procedures to operate an Internet-based auction.

Neoware Thin Client Packs Everything

Neoware Systems is launching an all-in-one, flat-panel thin client that can be set up on a desk or mounted on a wall.

The Eon Prestige is designed for environments with limited desk space, such as health care, transportation, retail and call center facilities. It can run Microsofts CE .Net and Windows XP Embedded operating systems, as well as Linux, and can connect to peripheral devices through serial, parallel and USB ports, said Neoware.

Eon Prestige comes with ezRemote Manager, Neowares management software that enables users to locate, manage and secure network thin clients from one location. It is available now, priced starting at $1,199.

Virus Programming Course Stirs Controversy

Groups of anti-virus professionals last week condemned the decision by the University of Calgary to offer a course that includes instruction on coding viruses.

The Anti-Virus Information Exchange Network and the Anti-Virus Information and Early Warning System said in a joint statement that teaching such skills "is completely unnecessary" and undermines the work being done to counteract viruses.

The course, titled "Computer Viruses and Malware," will "focus on developing malicious software such as computer viruses, worms and Trojan horses," according to the university. Students will also learn how to deconstruct and analyze malicious programs and delve into the ethics and legalities surrounding viruses.

Not everyone is ready to immediately dismiss the class.

"To disagree with the university means that you are assuming that the people taking the course are inherently malicious, with lots of spare time," said Doug Dagworthy, assistant manager of research and development at Alumni Computing Group, based in Buffalo, N.Y. "Real virus writers already have all the access to virus-creating tools they need. I like the idea of arming the good guys. Id even bet that a number of the graduates end up with careers with an anti-virus company."

eAssist Gobbles Up More of Divine

The Divine bankruptcy sale continued last week as customer service and support software developer eAssist Global Solutions announced the acquisition of Divines Customer Interaction Management product line.

The acquisition gives eAssist Divines NetAgent Suite, Expressions, the eBIS/jeBIS platforms and Velocity Marketing products.

Divine, formed from the acquisitions of more than a dozen Internet software companies, acquired eAssist and NetAgent Suite from eShare Technologies and eBIS/jeBIS and Velocity Marketing from Delano Technology in October 2001 and August 2002, respectively. But the Internet consolidator eventually took on many of the financial woes of the companies it acquired and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February.

Divine sold its content management business to FatWire Software last month.