Supreme Court Expands Scope of Patent Exhaustion

By James Cronin and Andrea Sellers

In Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court recently held that a patent owner's initial sale of a product, in the U.S. or in a foreign country, exhausts all of the U.S. patent rights in the product even if the patent owner attempts to place post-sale restrictions on the use and resale of the product.[1] Thus, a purchaser of the product, and anyone acquiring the product from the purchaser, may use and resell the product without infringing any patents covering the product. Further, even if the initial sale of the product occurs outside of the U.S., the product may be imported into the U.S. and resold in the U.S. without infringing any U.S. patents covering the product.

Moving forward, manufacturers of patented products can address the implications of this ruling through a variety of business, legal and operational strategies, and the risk of infringement will be significantly less for remanufacturers.

For more information about the effect of this decision on your organization, please contact James Cronin, Andrea Sellers or the Stinson Leonard Street contact with whom you regularly work.

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