Oral argument: Nov. 8, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Sept. 3, 2008)
FIRST SALE DOCTRINE, COPYRIGHT LAW, IMPORTS, PROPERTY RIGHTS
Costco Wholesale Corporation sold watches manufactured in Switzerland by Omega S.A. without Omega’s prior authorization. Omega sued under the Copyright Act, claiming the sale of the watches was an infringement of their United States copyright. Costco defended on the grounds of the first sale doctrine, which currently provides a defense for reselling goods manufactured in the United States that are resold by retailers or distributors. Costco claims that the doctrine applies to foreign-manufactured goods as well. The district court granted Costco’s motion for summary judgment, but the Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling. The Supreme Court must now decide whether the first sale doctrine applies to goods manufactured abroad. The Court’s decision will influence copyright law, property rights, and the ability of retailers to resell goods.