Press Release Patent Reform

Consumer Rights at Center of Impression v. Lexmark Supreme Court Case, Groups Argue

January 23, 2017 , ,

Today, Public Knowledge joins a group of consumer organizations in an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in the case Impression Products v. Lexmark International. The organizations on the brief include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, AARP, Mozilla, and the R Street Institute.

The case deals with the “patent exhaustion doctrine,” under which a consumer who purchases a patented product cannot be sued for patent infringement by the seller of the product. The Supreme Court will consider the validity of two exceptions to the patent exhaustion doctrine, both of which allow sellers like Lexmark to sue consumers for patent infringement when those consumers engage in behaviors contrary to the seller’s wishes.

The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge:

“We are proud to stand with a diverse group of organizations in supporting the most basic consumer right, the right to use one’s own property without interference from the seller.

“Today, companies who make consumer products go to astounding lengths to control what consumers may do with the products they purchase. Manufacturers and their product terms of service have gone so far as to cut off consumers’ right to speak about products, to block product safety research, to restrain competition, and to eliminate the most basic property rights to use and resell one’s own possessions.

“Patent exhaustion has long stood as a bulwark of consumer protection, preventing seller companies from overrunning the rights and expectations of buyers. We hope that the Supreme Court continues to recognize the importance of patent exhaustion as a consumer protection doctrine.”

The case is expected to go to argument in March. You may view the brief here.