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Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.

Docket No.: 08-1423
Certiorari Granted: 04/19/10
Argued: November 8, 2010
Decided: 12/13/10

Topics:

antitrust, copyright, property rights

PartyNames: Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.
Petitioner: Costco Wholesale Corporation
Respondent: Omega, S.A.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Citation: 541 F.3d 982
Supreme Court Docket

Costco Wholesale Corporation
v.
Omega, S.A.
Background:

Under the Copyright Act's first-sale doctrine, 17 U.S.C. § l09(a), the owner of any particular copy "lawfully made under this title" may resell that good without the authority of the copyright holder. In Quality King Distribs., Inc. v. L'Anza Research Int'l, Inc., 523 U.S. 135, 138 (1998), this Court posed the question presented as "whether the 'first sale' doctrine endorsed in § 109(a) is applicable to imported copies." In the decision below, the Ninth Circuit held that Quality King (which answered that question affirmatively) is limited to its facts, which involved goods manufactured in the United States, sold abroad, and then re-imported.

Question Presented:

Under the Copyright Act's first-sale doctrine, 17 U.S.C. § l09(a), the owner of any particular copy "lawfully made under this title" may resell that good without the authority of the copyright holder. In Quality King Distribs., Inc. v. L'Anza Research Int'l, Inc., 523 U.S. 135, 138 (1998), this Court posed the question presented as "whether the 'first sale' doctrine endorsed in § 109(a) is applicable to imported copies." In the decision below, the Ninth Circuit held that Quality King (which answered that question affirmatively) is limited to its facts, which involved goods manufactured in the United States, sold abroad, and then re-imported. The question presented here is: Whether the Ninth Circuit correctly held that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to imported goods manufactured abroad.

Question:

Under the first-sale doctrine of copyright law, someone who purchases a copyrighted work (like a book) can later sell the work to someone else without the permission of the copyright holder (the book's author). Does the "first- sale doctrine" apply to imported works manufactured abroad?

Note:

JUSTICE KAGAN TOOK NO PART

Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.
ORAL ARGUMENT

11/08/10

Listen to Oral Argument in Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.
Holding: affirmed by an equally divided court
Vote: 8-0
Recused: Kagan
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