BWC --- Summary of Brief for Respondents in 553 US 617

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The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) filed a brief for the respondents. The main argument they set forth deals with the patentee’s rights to restrict the sale and use of the patented article or process via licenses, and thus the respondents should win the current case. As long as the patentee did not abuse their rights granted by patent law as laid out by the courts over the past hundred+ years, they should be able to restrict the use or sale of their invention via a license, much like copyrighted material. Below are the main points from the brief, taken from the brief itself.



- This Court has long held that a patentee has the right to lawfully condition the sale or license of a patented product to limit the scope of the patent rights granted. Downstream purchasers should not be able to claim broader patent rights than those held by the party from whom they purchase

- Petitioners' position would jeopardize long-accepted business practices sustained by this Court in a wide range of industries, from the development and sale of genetically modified seeds, to microchip designs, to the sale and use of copyrighted content, such as video and music on DVDs and CDs.

- This Court has long sustained the rights of patentees to enforce conditions in license agreements.

-This Court should not lightly disrupt the well-established principle that limited license grants and conditional sales do not exhaust a patentee's ability to control the use of its intellectual property. Relying on this Court's well-settled precedent, there is a broad practice among owners of intellectual property of relying on the ability to condition sales of patented goods. -For example, owners of copyrighted works such as video, music, and software commonly sell CDs or DVDs with a limitation that they are for “home use only.” -The same rule should apply to patent holders. There is no basis in law, logic, or public policy for differentiating between the copyright interest and the patent interest in permitting conditioned sales.

-Sound public policy supports enforcing conditioned sales or limited licenses of patented goods. An owner of a property right generally can condition the use of that right by another; thus, a patent owner should be able to fashion a license that grants less than the full patent right. It should be no different when a patentee elects to manufacture the patented item itself rather than grant another the license to do so.


In conclusion, the main points of the argument are focused around the rights given to a patent owner via licensing agreements. In this current case, the respondents have restricted the rights of the use and sale of the patented article legally, and that agreement was broken when the petitioners sold a product with the patented invention present in it.