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U.S. Supreme Court Curbs Patent-Holder Power to Block Resale

  • Ruling is blow to printer companies, pharmaceutical industry
  • Patent rights end once company sells product, Roberts says
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The U.S. Supreme Court said companies give up their patent rights when they sell an item, in a ruling that puts new limits on businesses’ ability to prevent their products from being resold at a discount.

The ruling is a defeat for Lexmark International Inc., which was trying to stop refurbished versions of its printer cartridges from undercutting its U.S. sales. It’s also a blow to companies like HP Inc. and Canon Inc. that sell their printers for a relatively low cost with the idea that they will recoup money on sales of replacement cartridges. The decision was 8-0 in some respects and 7-1 in others.