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1 March 2006

Supreme Court Rules Unanimously in favor of Illinois Tool Works in Printer Ink Case

1 March 2006, Washington D.C., -- The Supreme Court, in an 8-0 decision favoring Illinois Tool Works, put new limits on antitrust suits against patent holders who bundle products for sale. Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP partner Andrew Pincus argued the case on behalf of ITW.

ITW has a patent for its industrial printheads and requires customers to purchase ink as part of its licensing agreement. Independent Ink, a maker of ink refills, alleged that ITW used its market power in illegally tying the products together in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had ruled courts should presume that a company with a patent has market power in that field. The Supreme Court found no such presumption should apply in patent cases.

"Congress, the antitrust enforcement agencies, and most economists have all reached the conclusion that a patent does not necessarily confer market power upon the patentee. Today, we reach the same conclusion," wrote Justice John Paul Stevens.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts to consider the issue of market power in the printhead field. Justice Samuel Alito did not participate in the case. The case is Illinois Tool Works v. Independent Ink, 04-1329.

A webinar was recently presented highlighting the impact of this case. Click here to go to the webinar page, which includes links to the Supreme Court decision, presentation slides, and audio of the presentation.

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