After spending $US2.6 billion in 2005 on Skype, eBay is threatening to close it because of licensing problems.
On of the largest global telecommunication providers was sold to eBay by the Skype founders in 2005. But an integral part of the technology is not owned by eBay, only licensed from Joltid. Who have apparently decided to revoke the license.
So, Ebay, deciding it is too hard to replace the technology, is trying to use the courts to force Joltid to allow it to continue licensing the technology. And if that doesn’t work, they just pull the plug.
Interestingly TheRegister  suggests that the disputed technology is the encryption used for the VOIP, apparently uncrackable various spy agencies. Leading to Conspiracy theories as to why someone is trying to get the technology replaced.
- Shock threat to shut Skype (Asher Moses, SMH, 31 July 2009)
- eBay could ditch uncrackable Skype tech (Chris Williams, The Register, 31 July 2009)
Edit: 1 August 2009
And Techdirt has an interesting article about who actually own the underlying technology. Is it the same tech used in Kazaa? Didn’t someone else have the first refusal on purchase of the tech? But more importantly, why didn’t eBay make sure their licence could not be revoked?
- Skype Founders Claim eBay No Longer Has A Right To Skype’s Core Tech (Mike Masnick, Techdirt, 31 July 2009)