He won a $35m verdict that could be tripled by the judge. But a lot of patent lawyers say there’s also a lot that stands between Thomas Woolston and his money. But those patents sure are attractive to a lot of companies. Amazon and Yahoo for starters.

“I’m just thankful that an individual can still have his day in court,” says Thomas G. Woolston about the jury verdict in his case against eBay, in which the giant auction company was ordered to pay $35 million.

That sure sounds like a win, especially since that amount could be tripled by the judge for willful infringement of the patent.

According to Woolston’s attorneys at Hunton & Williams any future legal sparring may be completely and totally irrelevant. Why? The patents are already on the block.

“Mr. Woolston owns a very valuable asset,” says Gregory N. Stillman, one of the law firm’s managing partners. “It’s these patents. And by virtue of this verdict, the patents have become decidedly more valuable. He can now dispose of them, if that what he wants to do.”

Though Stillman wouldn’t confirm it, both Amazon.com and Yahoo! have reportedly talked with Woolston about the purchase of the patents, but that’s just a start. A spokesman for Woolston contends that many other well-known companies are showing interest. Asked directly about a sale Stillman puts it this way: “Let’s just say we’re definitely picking up the phone.”

A sale, of course, would bypass all the intricate and unpredictable steps between this jury verdict and a final conclusion to the case. As it is, eBay has already asked that the trial judge reverse the jury decision. Or failing that, eBay wants the judge to order an entirely new trial.

Then, eBay can always argue over damages. That could spell trouble for Woolston.

Scroll to Top