According to the patent exhaustion doctrine, once a patentee sells an article embodying the patented invention, “the patentee may not thereafter, by virtue of his patent, control the use or disposition of the article.” United States v. Univis Lens Co., 316 U.S. 241, 250 (1942). Yet the Court of Appeals approved of two mechanisms by which a patentee may sell a patented article and yet still control use or disposition of that article. The questions presented are whether those mechanisms are tenable under the exhaustion doctrine. Specifically:

1. Whether a “conditional sale” that transfers title to the patented item while specifying post-sale restrictions on the article’s use or resale avoids application of the patent exhaustion doctrine and therefor permits the enforcement of such post-sale restrictions through the patent law’s infringement remedy.

2. Whether, in light of this Court’s holding in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that the common law doctrine barring restraints on alienation that is the basis of the exhaustion doctrine “makes no geographical distinctions,” 133 S. Ct. 1351, 1363 (2013), a sale of a patented article—authorized by the U.S. patentee—that takes place outside of the United States exhausts the U.S. patent rights in that article.

The full amicus brief is attached above. 

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