The Verge/ Adi Robertson/ May 30, 2017
The Supreme Court has ruled that patent holders canâ€™t sue people for reselling or refurbishing a product thatâ€™s based on those patents. Today, it passed down a decision in Impression Products v. Lexmark International, declaring that printer company Lexmark canâ€™t sue companies selling refilled toner cartridges for patent infringement. This reverses a two-part federal court ruling from 2016, affirming that patent law doesnâ€™t justify eroding ownership rights.
Lexmark International, like many companies that sell printers, makes a lot of its money from customers buying a steady stream of toner cartridges after their initial purchase. But â€śremanufacturingâ€ť companies like Impression Products can take exhausted cartridges, refill them, and independently sell them at lower costs. Lexmark has spent over a decade arguing that this kind of refurbishing violates both copyright and patent law â€” though it lost the copyright fight in 2004.
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