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A Firewall is Cheaper Than a Lawyer

Written By: Laura Taylor
Published On: May 15 2000

A Firewall is Cheaper Than a Lawyer
L. Taylor - May 15, 2000

Event Summary

On Friday, April 14, the Federal District Court in San Jose, California held a hearing on eBay's motion for a preliminary injunction to limit Bidder's Edge, an online auction search engine, from linking to eBay's website. In an open letter dated April 20th to its user base, President and CEO of Bidder's Edge, Jim Carney, defended his position stating that, "we remain confident in the correctness of our position and in the need to defend the openness of the Internet. eBay's attempt to block Bidder's Edge denies and constricts the free flow of information to the consumer."

Claiming intellectual property trespassing, unfair business practices, and a host of other transgressions, the giant of online auctions, eBay, filed a lawsuit last December against Bidder's Edge for linking to its site. Bidder's Edge pledges to save online auction shoppers the hassle of going from one auction to the next in search of their sought after treasures.

Last September, eBay started clamping down on auction aggregators, demanding that they remove all links to eBay's site. After initially complying with this request, the Burlington, Massachusetts based auction aggregator restored the link due to popular demand from its users.

Market Impact

If it doesn't get dismissed, the case known as "eBay Inc. v. Bidder's Edge, D. Calif. No 0-99, 21-200," may set a precedent in Federal District courts for the legality of linking to websites that don't want you to link to them. Positioned for a jury trial, the case will, if all components are considered, ask the question why eBay has not technically taken the measures to protect its own website with the latest firewall technology.

If implemented correctly, certain firewalls allow websites to block unwanted links to their site, without all the fuss and expense of instigating a lawsuit. In fact, the lack of proper technical due diligence to back its lawsuit begs an analysis of eBay's technical competency. After all, a firewall is cheaper than a lawyer, and implementing one is usually more expeditious than launching a lawsuit.

Predictions

As the firewall market expands to unprecedented proportions, more clever implementations of firewalls will begin to replace costly lawsuits that take inordinate lengths of time to matriculate. If you don't want competitors or unsavory Internet outposts linking to your site, block their domain. Once the courts, the lawyers, eBay, and Bidder's Edge figure out what capabilities firewalls have, they'll all be wiping eggs off their face and the case will be dismissed.

 
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