Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L'Anza Research International, Inc., 523 U.S. (135) p.1998
copyright infringement: importation
Plaintiff's products (beauty supplies) were sold to a market in a different country at a low cost. People there were shipping the products back to the USA and reselling them. Sued to prevent the importation (under 602(a)). Plaintiff alleged that distribution was being violated. They said there was a copyright violation of the labels on the bottles.
The United States District Court for the Central District of California, J. Spencer Letts, J., 1995 WL 908331, entered injunction in favor of manufacturer. Importer appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 98 F.3d 1109, affirmed. Importer filed petition for writ of certiorari.
Whether the imported good were violation of the copyright protection or covered by the first sale doctrine.
First sale doctrine, under which owner of particular copy is entitled, without authority of copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of possession of that copy, is applicable to imported copies.
The Supreme Court, Justice Stevens, held that first sale doctrine, under which owner of particular copy is entitled, without authority of copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of possession of that copy, is applicable to imported copies. No copyright infringement because of doctrine of first sale. The USA law applies.
The work was created in the USA. Sale took place in the USA. Therefore USA law applies to this product. Therefore section 109 applies. Since the first sale was of a copyrighted work that was subjected to a USA act, the products went out with a USA copyright protection.
The concurring opinion made it clear that this case does not apply where the product was initially made outside of the USA. Where the work is created outside the USA, the issue becomes, where did the copyright originate from.
Created on: Thursday, October 14, 1999 at 19:44:02 (PDT)