A good discussion of Omega S.A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., which addresses the issue of the first sale doctrine in the context of copyright cases can be found in an article recently written by my Dorsey colleagues, Bob Wasnofski and Jose Hernandez. Here is a sample of the article:
On December 13, 2010, the Supreme Court issued a split decision (due to Justice Kagan’s recusal) in Omega S.A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 562 U.S. ___ (2010), thereby affirming the 9th Circuit ruling that the “first sale doctrine” does not serve as a defense to copyright infringement where one imports into the United States genuine, foreign-made copies of a copyrighted work without the authorization of the copyright owner. As it was a split decision, however, it does not serve as nationwide precedent. Nevertheless, in the 9th Circuit, the “first sale” defense can be used only in situations where the disputed copies of a copyrighted work are either made or previously sold in the United States with the authority of the copyright owner. As such, copyright owners of foreign-made copies are afforded significant protection in the 9th Circuit against the importation of “grey market” goods, allowing them greater control over the distribution and price of their products.
Click here to read the full article.