Recent U.S. Court Decisions And Developments Affecting Licensing

By John Paul and Brian Kacedon

John Paul

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

Brian Kacedon

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

The exhaustion doctrine in patent law precludes a patent owner from asserting patent rights to control the use of an apparatus after an authorized sale. In Keurig, Inc. v. Sturm Foods, Inc., the Federal Circuit held that a patent owner's rights to a patented method are exhausted when the patent owner sells an apparatus with a normal and intended use of practicing the method. The Federal Circuit also stated that exhaustion is determined on a patent-by-patent basis, not a claim-by-claim basis. This latter portion of the Keurig decision is significant for patent owners because it could have additional ramifications for those whose patents cover both method and apparatus claims.

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