By Tearing Open That Cardboard Box, Are You Also Signing on the Dotted Line?


Pay attention next time you rip open a cardboard box - you may be entering into a contract without realizing it.

A recent decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinforced the right of companies, in this case Lexmark International, the printer maker, to legally limit what customers can do with a patented product, given that the company spells out conditions and restrictions on a package label known as a box-top license.

Clickable license agreements are common practice in software, where the buyer agrees not to tamper with the code or copy the program. But slapping postsale regulations on patented goods could deny buyers the ability to make modifications or seek repairs on other products as well. Box-top licenses could also theoretically hinder third parties from offering replacement parts or supplies for fear of a patent-infringement lawsuit (meaning, for example, that a lighter might have to be refueled only with the manufacturer's brand of butane). By Tearing Open That Cardboard Box, Are You Also Signing on the Dotted Line? - New York Times

Linked by shanmuga Monday, 3rd October 2005 12:42AM