The Supreme Court on Monday breathed new life into the doctrine of patent exhaustion — thereby limiting the power of patent-holders over “downstream” transactions.

In a unanimous ruling authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court stood firm behind the 150-year-old doctrine under which “the sale of a patented item terminates all patent rights to that item.” In other words, the patent holder has little or no power to restrict what the purchaser does with the patented items after the first sale.

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