The Supreme Court of the United States on May 30, 2017 adopted a rule of international exhaustion of patent rights for the United States in Impression Products v. Lexmark International, No. 15-1189. The near-unanimous decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts is unambiguous and unequivocal. The Court paid short shrift to contrary decisions of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Jazz Photo Corp. v. International Trade Commission, 264 F. 3d 1094 (Fed. Cir. 2001) and in this case on certiorari, Lexmark International v. Impression Products, 816 F.3d 721 (Fed. Cir. 2016).
In addition to adopting international exhaustion, the Supreme Court ruled firmly against enforcement of post-sale restrictions through infringement actions based on patent. The Court allowed for enforcement under contract law of limitations that may be included in patent licenses.
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Author: Guest contributor