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Repairing Worn Part on Patented Machine Is Not Infringement
Description An Appeals court upheld lower court verdict that for a company to do repair work, including part replacement, to a patented item was not infringement. That would happen if the work went beyond repair and involved construction of equivalent items.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Patents; Infringement; Repairs
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bottom Line holds a patent on a commercial cooking device. Part of the cooker is Teflon coated. The coating usually wears off in about a year. Bottom Line sells new replacements for the worn parts. Pan Man repairs the worn part by replacing the Teflon coating; it charges less than Bottom Line does for a new replacement part. Bottom Line sued Pan Man for patent infringement for refurbishing the worn part. The district court ruled for Pan Man, finding that refurbishment is a permissible repair, not infringement of the patent that applies to the device. Bottom Line appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "Unless the parties provide otherwise, the purchaser of a patented article has an implied license not only to use and sell it, but also to repair it to enable it to function properly. ... The purchaser of a patented article, however, cannot go beyond repairing the article to reconstruct it." Here, Pan Man was repairing the patented item, not reconstructing it by making a new creation of a patented item, so there was no infringement.
Citation Bottom Line Management, Inc. v. Pan Man, Inc., 228 F.3d 1352 (Fed. Cir., 2000)

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