Supreme Court Case Winner Takes the Cake

Impression Products’ staff rallied together to present their CEO Eric Smith with a surprise cake celebrating his win in the Supreme Court on May 30, 2017.

Twelve months on, the landmark case—between Impression Products, based in West Virginia, and Lexmark International, based in Kentucky—continues to be discussed at imaging events around the globe.

“I had no idea it had been a year and had no plans to celebrate but it was nice to take a breather and enjoy the moment with my staff,” Eric Smith told RT Media in an exclusive interview.

The cake presented to Smith (pictured) by his staff was inscribed with the words, “When You’re Right, You Fight…SCOTUS Approved.” SCOTUS refers to the Supreme Court Of The United States.

When asked if he had any thoughts 12 months on, Smith replied, “Making history and winning at the highest court in the land against a multibillion-dollar powerhouse in a case that benefited every consumer in the world still feels as good today as it did twelve months ago!”

He told RT Media he has no regrets whatsoever. “We won by a unanimous decision domestic and all but one vote international.”

Facing the needs of his customers today is what takes his full attention and he says he cannot afford to dwell on the past. “I have no rear view mirror, the past is the past, and the cold hard truth is we live in a ‘what have you done lately’ world that demands my full attention be on what’s in front of me and how I must do even better.”

He says he pursued the case from the beginning out of loyalty to his employees who “hitched their wagon to me years ago.” He adds, following through to the very end was about the everyday consumer and being on the right side of history.

The Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., 581 U.S. 1523 (2017), is a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on the exhaustion doctrine in patent law in which the Court held that after the sale of a patented item, the patent holder cannot sue for patent infringement relating to further use of that item, even when in violation of a contract with a customer or imported from outside the United States.

The case concerned a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Lexmark against Impression Products, Inc., which bought used printer cartridges, refilled them, replaced a microchip on the cartridge to circumvent a digital rights management scheme, and then resold them. Lexmark argued that as they own several patents related to the cartridges, Impression Products was violating their patent rights. The U.S. Supreme Court, reversing a 2016 decision of the Federal Circuit, held that the exhaustion doctrine prevented Lexmark’s patent infringement lawsuit, although Lexmark could enforce restrictions on use or resale of its contracts with direct purchasers under regular contract law (but not as a patent infringement lawsuit).

Watch RT Media’s David Gibbons talk to Eric Smith (TV interview) “I Was Offered Millions”

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RT Media’s resident cartoonist BERTO remembers the SCOTUS decision:

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