The Federalist Society will host a teleforum discussion of Impression Products v. Lexmark International, which is scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court March 21, 2017. At issue in the case is whether a patent owner may use a combination of patent rights and contract law to restrict what purchasers of patented printer toner cartridges may do with the cartridges. Lexmark makes patented toner cartridges and sells them with a restriction that the cartridges not be resold or refilled. Impression Products buys used Lexmark toner cartridges, refills, and resells them. Lexmark argues that Impression Products’ toner refilling activities violate Lexmark’s patent rights because the license to use the patented product that was given to consumers prohibited refilling, thus putting such use and resale of the patented products outside of the scope of the patent license, in violation of Lexmark’s patent rights. For its part, Impression Products argues that the “patent exhaustion” doctrine should operate here to restrict Lexmark from asserting any patent rights after a first, authorized sale. Also at issue is whether first sales in foreign countries instead of the U.S. should affect the outcome.
The case will have significant effects on the ability of patent owners to control the downstream uses of their patented products, and may affect the ability of patent owners to prevent the importation of “grey market” goods that have been lawfully sold in other countries, similarly to the Supreme Court’s holding in the 2013 copyright case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Prof. Adam Mossoff, Co-Founder, Director of Academic Programs & Senior Scholar, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property; Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
- Prof. David Olson, Associate Professor, Boston College Law School
- Mr. Steven Tepp, President & CEO of Sentinel Worldwide; Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University Law School
- Moderator: Prof. Kristen Osenga, Professor of Law, University of Richmond