Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.

PETITIONER: Costco Wholesale Corporation
RESPONDENT: Omega, S.A.
LOCATION: U.S. Capitol Building

DOCKET NO.: 08-1423
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 562 US 40 (2010)
GRANTED: Apr 19, 2010
ARGUED: Nov 08, 2010
DECIDED: Dec 13, 2010

ADVOCATES:
Aaron M. Panner - for the respondent
Malcolm L. Stewart - Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae, supporting the respondent
Roy T. Englert, Jr. - for the petitioner
Roy T. Englert, Jr. - on behalf of the petitioner

Facts of the case

Watchmaker Omega S.A. sued Costco Wholesale Corp. when it bought a shipment of the Swiss-made watches from another importer and sold them for below Omega's suggested retail price. Omega contends that Costco's sale infringes on their copyright of the Omega logo on the back face of the watch. Meanwhile, Costco argues that Omega is precluded from bringing a copyright action after a sale due to the Doctrine of Exhaustion, or "first sale" rule, under which certain rights are "exhausted" after a sale of the copyrighted good.

A judge on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California backed Costco, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the first-sale doctrine did 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?

Media for Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 2010 in Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - December 13, 2010 in Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

In case 08-1423 Costco Wholesale Corporation versus Omega, the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.