Ninestar Technology Co. v. ITC (Federal Circuit; U.S. Supreme Court)
The patent exhaustion doctrine provides that, following a first, authorized sale of a patented article, the patentee has exhausted its rights to the product. In this case, Ninestar purchased used printer cartridges abroad, refilled them, and imported them to the United States for sale. Pursuant to a complaint and investigation, the ITC ultimately issued an exclusion order, finding that Ninestar infringed patent claims relating to the printer cartridge. Both the ITC and the Federal Circuit rejected Ninestar’s patent exhaustion defense, holding that patent exhaustion does not apply when the first sale occurs outside the United States. Ninestar hired us to seek certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court.