The U.S. Supreme Court resolved a heated legal battle over patent law and the world's most expensive liquid and the decision has implications across all business sectors. On Tuesday, the Court ruled that when a patent holder sells its products, the company cannot control the items by using patent laws. In other words, once a company sells a product, it cannot prevent other companies from reselling the product.
The Court made the ruling in a case between Lexmark International, which makes printers and ink cartridges for its printers, and Impressions Products, a small Charleston, West Virginia-based company that buys used Lexmark cartridges, refills the cartridges with ink, and sells the recycled cartridges for a discounted price.
Lexmark sued Impressions Products for patent infringement, citing the conditions it placed on its ink cartridges that say they cannot be refilled and resold. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with Lexmark, the New York Times reports, ruling that the Lexmark's conditions could be enforced in the U.S. under patent law.
But, the Supreme Court disagreed and ruled that once a company sells its product, the patent rights are "exhausted," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writes in a unanimous decision in the case.
The court's decision will have implications on the import and resale of electronics, pharmaceutical drugs, and other products, the Times notes.