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Quality King v. L'Anza: Supreme Court upholds "first sale" doctrine in gray market case.

This article was originally published in The Rose Sheet

Executive Summary

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS "FIRST SALE" DOCTRINE IN QUALITY KING v. L'ANZA, ruling in favor of U.S. distributor Quality King March 9 in a unanimous decision overturning a Pasadena, Calif. federal appeals court judgment that the wholesaler was illegally distributing L'Anza Research International's salon hair care products. "After the first sale of a copyrighted item...any subsequent purchaser, whether from domestic or from a foreign seller, is obviously an `owner' of that item," the court states. "Read literally," the first sale doctrine, or Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976, "unambiguously states that such an owner `is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner to sell' that item," the Supreme Court ruled. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion in Quality King Distributors v. L'Anza Research International for the court.
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