Lexmark Int'l, Inc. v. Impression Prods., Inc., No. 14-1617 (Fed. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Lexmark makes and sells printer toner cartridges, for which it holds patents. Lexmark buyers may purchase a “Regular Cartridge” at full price, not subject to any terms restricting reuse or resale of the cartridge, or may purchase a “Return Program Cartridge” at a discount, subject to a single-use/no-resale restriction. Impression acquired restricted cartridges for resale in the U.S. after a third party physically modified them to enable re-use. Impression’s actions infringe under 35 U.S.C. 271, unless Lexmark’s initial sale of the cartridges constitutes the grant of authority that makes later resale and importation non-infringing under the doctrine of exhaustion. The Federal Circuit, en banc, held that a patentee, when selling a patented article subject to a single-use/no-resale restriction that is lawful and clearly communicated to the purchaser, does not thereby give the buyer, or downstream buyers, the resale/reuse authority that has been expressly denied. Such resale or reuse, when contrary to known, lawful limits on the authority conferred at the original sale, remains unauthorized, infringing conduct under section 271. Under Supreme Court precedent, a patentee may preserve its 271 rights through such restrictions when licensing others to make and sell patented articles; there is no basis for denying the same ability to the patentee that sells the articles itself.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on April 14, 2015.
- Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., No. 15-1189 (U.S. May. 30, 2017)