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Posts Tagged: "exhaustion"

The Year in Patents: The Top 10 Patent Stories from 2017

It is that time once again when we look back on the previous year in preparation to close the final chapter of 2017 in order move fresh into the year ahead. 2017 was a busy year in the patent world, although change was not as cataclysmic as it had been in past years, such as 2012 when the PTAB and post grant challenges began, in 2013 when AIA first to file rules went into effect, or in 2014 when the Supreme Court decided Alice v. CLS Bank. It was, nevertheless, still an interesting year… To come up with the list below I’ve reviewed all of our patent articles, and have come up with these top 10 patent stories for 2017. They appear in chronological order as they happened throughout the year.

Questions Raised by the Lexmark Decision

Licensing a product instead of selling it may also be a tool for avoiding international patent exhaustion. It is common to distribute software via license, and this might avoid international exhaustion, although it will not work for all products. For example, licensing a drug makes little sense. However, re-importation of a drug would be regulated by the FDA, and the conditions and chain of control of drugs might mitigate some of the international exhaustion issues there. As such, many companies are evaluating the extent of the decision on international exhaustion and how it affects their industries. Since companies have thousands of contracts already in place and the parties will have to reevaluate their positions going forward, this is causing mass confusion and restructuring of contracts and relationships.

Patent Exhaustion at the Supreme Court: Industry Reaction to Impression Products v. Lexmark

Bob Stoll: ”And it is the international exhaustion holding that is particularly troubling. Sales abroad act independently from the US patent system and there is no impact from the US patent system on those sales. Yet in this decision, the Supreme Court says that the foreign sale now diminishes patent rights in the US. All sorts of goods, including life-saving pharmaceuticals, are sold at lower prices in poor nations. This decision will encourage powerful foreign groups to gather products up and send them back to the US to get the higher prices. Or, companies will not be able to lower prices and sell their products in those countries. Both the poor in distant lands and the innovators in the US will suffer.”

Supreme Court rules Lexmark sales exhausted patent rights domestically and internationally

The Supreme Court determined that when a patent owner sells a product the sale exhausted patent rights in the item being sold regardless of any restrictions the patentee attempts to impose on the location of the sale. In other words, a sale of a patented product exhausts all rights — both domestic and international… Notably, the Supreme Court rejected the Government’s international exhaustion compromise, which would have been to recognize that a foreign sale exhausts patent rights unless those rights are expressly reserved. The Supreme Court found this to be nothing more than public policy, focusing on the expectations between buyer and seller rather than on the transfer of patent rights as required by the patent exhaustion doctrine.

Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Impression Products v. Lexmark International

On Tuesday, March 21st, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. The case surrounding the sale and resale of printer ink cartridges will require the Supreme Court to decide whether U.S. law surrounding patent exhaustion allows post-sale restrictions and if sales of a patented article outside of the U.S. exhausts the U.S. patent rights in that article… Arguing on behalf of petitioner Impression Products was Andrew Pincus who led off by noting that the first sale doctrine, in which an initial authorized sale of a patented item terminates all patent rights to that item, was a principle that goes all the way back to the 15th century… Appearing next in oral arguments was deputy U.S. solicitor general Malcolm L. Stewart supporting reversal in part and vacatur in part… Following Stewart was Constantine Trela, arguing on behalf of respondent Lexmark International. Trela agreed with the government in a limited sense in that the Federal Circuit properly looked to the statute to find origins and limits on the exhaustion doctrine.

Restricted Sales Do Not Exhaust Patent Rights Under Supreme Court Rulings

The Federal Circuit took the case en banc to review the applicability of the patent exhaustion doctrine under Mallinckrodt and Jazz Photo, in view of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Quanta and Kirtsaeng. The Federal Circuit affirmed the holdings in Mallinckrodt and Jazz Photo, and distinguished them from the Supreme Court’s decisions. In Quanta, the Supreme Court was reviewing whether a patentee’s rights in a product were exhausted by a licensee’s sale of a product.

No Quanta of Solace for Farmer Bowman: Unlicensed Planting of Patented Seed Infringing Use, Not Patent Exhaustion*

n the case of Bowman v. Monsanto Co., Farmer Bowman may have believed that the “third time” would be “charm.” In two prior cases, Monsanto Co. v. Scruggs[1] and Monsanto Co. v. McFarling,[2] the Federal Circuit had ruled in favor of Monsanto, the owner of the patented Roundup Ready® soybeans, and against Farmer Scruggs and Farmer McFarling. Even so, Farmer Bowman, as probably did his legal counsel, may have believed that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc.[3] would undermine the Federal Circuit’s view that patent exhaustion didn’t apply to Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready® soybeans. But in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit’s 2011 ruling[4] that Farmer Bowman’s unlicensed planting of these patented Roundup Ready® soybeans (sold for commodity use only) was an infringing use that was not subject to the doctrine of patent exhaustion. Alas, Farmer Bowman found no solace in Quanta.

Supreme Court Punts on Costco First Sale Copyright Case

United States Supreme Court issued a non-decision in the matter of Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A. The Per Curiam decision simply read: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.” Unfortunately, this non-decision could well signal the beginning of the end for the first sale doctrine given that goods manufactured and sold outside the United States can apparently be controlled downstream by the copyright owner without the copyright owner having exhausted rights through the sale.