SCOTUS Deadlocks on First-Sale Doctrine Case

December 13, 2010 -

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a split decision on Costco v. Omega, a case dealing with first sale doctrine. The court divided 4-4. The case had to do with watches bought overseas and sold at Costco discounts in the United States. The split denies a change in a lower court decision upholding the rights of the Swiss watch manufacturer, Omega.

According to Scotus blog, a different outcome might have been possible if the newest justice, Justice Elena Kagan, didn't recuse herself from the case. Kagan has recused herself from about half of the cases being heard during this term.

Costco argued in its appeal that the Ninth Circuit decision allows copyright owners who make products outside the U.S. to gain added legal weapons against those who buy goods overseas.

More from SCOTUS Blog:

At issue is the so-called “first sale doctrine.” Federal law provides that, if a copy of a protected work is made or purchased legally, that copy can be sold without the consent of the owner of the copyright. Once the owner of a protected work has sold a copy of it to someone else, that other person may sell it without permission of the owner of the copyright.

Under other provisions of copyright law, importing a copy of a protected work amounts to an infringement of the copyright if the copy was made abroad and brought back into the U.S. without permission. The first-sale doctrine is an exception to that provision. The Ninth Circuit, however, ruled that the doctrine applies only to copies made legally and sold inside the U.S.

Some good examples of how first-sale doctrine applies to software and DVDs can be found here.


Comments

Re: SCOTUS Deadlocks on First-Sale Doctrine Case

I am not quite clear... how does copyright fit into this case since we are dealing with the sale of tangible goods?

Re: SCOTUS Deadlocks on First-Sale Doctrine Case

Somehow Omega was able to convince some judges that Company logos are covered under copyright and not trademark. Since it was the logo that was being distributed without the permission of the copyright owner, selling the product was illegal.

I think it is a stupid ruling and a stupid case. The logo should not be allowed to have copyright protection and rather fall under trademark law which would have allowed for this sale as the logo is attached to a licensed good.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: SCOTUS Deadlocks on First-Sale Doctrine Case

Odd indeed.  If they were digital watches, I suppose you could claim copyright on the firmware, but as far as I know they were analog -- that's what precision Swiss watches are known for.

Re: SCOTUS Deadlocks on First-Sale Doctrine Case

Ah!

Thanks for the explination.

Re: SCOTUS Deadlocks on First-Sale Doctrine Case

Breakdown?

Re: SCOTUS Deadlocks on First-Sale Doctrine Case

Irritating, but according to the linked article it didn't set a national precedent.

Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MechaTama31Infophile: Kind of like how you're criticizing these theoretical reactions before you've even read any? ;)09/01/2015 - 12:44am
PHX CorpI'll probaly Start the stream around 8PM Eastern08/31/2015 - 10:09pm
PHX CorpOk, see you guys Tomorrow on the GP Facebook Page, I'll be steaming either the first 2 megaman games(Through Megaman Legacy Collection) or Rare Replay as the first game on My twitch.tv page tomorrow While we wait for GP to Come back up later this week08/31/2015 - 10:01pm
james_fudgeAlso check out our Facebook page and chat there! https://www.facebook.com/gamepolitics08/31/2015 - 9:53pm
james_fudgeSee you all on the other side! Find me on Twitter :)08/31/2015 - 9:51pm
james_fudgeAllright, i'll mention this on the GP facebook page08/31/2015 - 9:49pm
PHX Corpand now it's ready to go for everyone08/31/2015 - 9:35pm
PHX Corpok, done http://www.twitch.tv/trustygemtwitch I have to put on one more finishing touch and it is ready to go08/31/2015 - 9:19pm
Andrew EisenFeel free to leave us suggestions on Facebook or Twitter too. We're going to be busy but we'll try our best to keep an eye on 'em.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenIt's an interesting idea though. If we do anything, we probably won't know until after the site goes offline so keep an eye on GP social media for announcements.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenYeah, we could use my Twitch chat box too. There's always IRC but we don't currently have a GamePolitics channel.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Goth_SkunkThough I think the limit is 9 at a time in the hangout, so anyone who can't get in would be stuck out in the 'on air' portion.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Andrew EisenFor the show, I'd like the chat open to anyone who wants to watch.08/31/2015 - 8:55pm
PHX CorpI could Set Up a Temporary chatroom on My twitch.TV page while GP is busy updating the site(since I'll be Fighting Megaman Legacy Collection on Xbox one)08/31/2015 - 8:54pm
Goth_SkunkI don't see a problem with inviting viewers. It's not like I'm advocating this to be an open forum, just something specific to GP members.08/31/2015 - 8:53pm
Andrew EisenThat's why I embed the chat box from my Twitch Page. Can't get chat on the YouTube page to work either.08/31/2015 - 8:49pm
Andrew EisenI do but I haven't seen a way to incorporate viewers to chat without specifically inviting them to the event.08/31/2015 - 8:49pm
Goth_SkunkThough I'm surprised you'd not be familiar with this, Andrew. Do you not use Google Hangouts when you do S.P.A.C.?08/31/2015 - 8:45pm
Andrew EisenGP Movie Night!08/31/2015 - 8:41pm
Big PermEveyone should be too busy with phantom pain to notice GP is down. Hail Vidya!08/31/2015 - 8:40pm

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician