EBay is working on software to replace the guts of Skype but is worried that it may not succeed, may lose a court battle with Skype's founders over rights to the core technology and may need to do something drastic in the next few years. The company said in a regulatory filing yesterday that if it fails in both the legal and technical avenues it's pursuing then "continued operation of Skype's business as currently conducted would likely not be possible."
Joltid, a company owned by Skype's founders, merely licensed some of the system's core technology to eBay when it sold Skype to the auction giant in 2005. Joltid now says that the license has been revoked and eBay is infringing on its rights by continuing to use the technology. The case is scheduled to go to court in June of 2010 but eBay is trying to replace the technology in the meantime. It may not succeed.
Joseph Galante at Bloomberg News cites Jayanth Angl, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, who argues that replacing the technology will not be easy. "It would be quite difficult to replace what they already have as the underlying component to their service," Angl told Bloomberg. "There are a number of barriers to that, not the least of which are legal barriers." The creation of another global P2P VOIP and video network that doesn't infringe on existing patents is no small task.