The Seconds Tick on the Copyright "First Sale" Doctrine? Not So Much...

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On or about April, 19, 2010, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A. to hear the appeal of a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that sent shivers through the online retail community – even librarians in the United States – and for good reason. For anyone who has ever bought or sold a CD or DVD, a second-hand book or any number of items through eBay, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling strikes a dissonant chord in an otherwise fairly harmonious line of precedent regarding the “first sale” doctrine under copyright law. This decision is interesting for a number of reasons – not just for the Ninth Circuit’s rationale and impact, but for the creative way in which Omega attempts to control distribution of its watches within its channels of trade where other areas of intellectual property law failed to “deliver the goods” so to speak. Will the decision bear the test of time, or will the Supreme Court say time's up?

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