Supreme Court Limits Patent Rights After Product Sales


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Jim K
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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday placed sharp limits on how much control patent holders have over how their products are used after they are sold.

 

The case concerned Lexmark International, which makes toner cartridges for use in its printers. The court ruled that the company could not use patent law to stop companies from refilling and selling the cartridges.

 

Lexmark sold the cartridges on the condition that they not be reused after the ink ran out. Impression Products, a small company in Charleston, W.Va., nonetheless bought Lexmark cartridges in the United States and abroad, refurbished and refilled them and sold them more cheaply than Lexmark does.

 

Lexmark sued for patent infringement, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court in Washington, accepted both of its main arguments, one concerning domestic sales and the other concerning international ones.

 

//

 

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for a unanimous Supreme Court on this point, said Lexmark could not use the patent laws to enforce the contractual conditions it placed on the sale of its cartridges. Under the doctrine of “patent exhaustion,” he wrote, once a patent holder sells an item, it can no longer control the item through the patent laws.

 

“The purchaser and all subsequent owners are free to use or resell the product just like any other item of personal property, without fear of an infringement lawsuit,” the chief justice wrote.

 

/snip

Full article at The New York Times

SCOTUS ruling (PDF) 

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JoseyWales

Great news! Now you can sell your game disks without reprisal..

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wahoospa

Hasn't this case been going on for years? Seems like forever to me. Good ruling Supreme Court. :yes:

 

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Jazmac

I remember a time when music CD's would have on the label that it could NOT be resold.

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wakjak
34 minutes ago, JoseyWales said:

Great news! Now you can sell your game disks without reprisal..

And you couldn't before ?

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JoseyWales

No, when was the last time you were able to transfer a game key to someone else? unless you go disk and never register it online maybe, the good old days are long gone. All we have now is better graphics..

Acording to the little box you check to agree to their terms to install a game. Non-transferable.. Until this opened the door. It will take a game maker being sued over it but this will set the president for it at that time.

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