The US Supreme Court is setting things right these days. Last week it was a patent jurisdiction that slashed the patent litigation industry of the Eastern District of Texas, and this week it is Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., a decision supporting robust application of the exhaustion doctrine in the sale of patented articles. In the Lexmark decision last year, the Federal Circuit upheld the ability of Lexmark to avoid patent exhaustion, when selling its printer toner cartridges, by promulgating a legend that the cartridges were sold for single use. After that decision came down, I went onto Zazzle and made up a coffee mug with this legend:
RETURN EMPTY MUG TO HEATHER MEEKER
PLEASE READ BEFORE DRINKING
Drinking from this mug confirms your acceptance of the following license agreement. This promotional mug is provided to you free of charge in connection with promotion of legal services (method patent pending) subject to a restriction that it may be used only once. Following this initial use, you agree to return the mug to Heather Meeker. A regular price mug without these terms is available.
I gave them to a dozen or so people, none of whom returned them. Now my little prank is irrelevant, but that’s probably for the best.