In a Patently-O post last week, we asked whether the Federal Circuit would recognize the U.S.–foreign tradeoff at stake. And the answer appears to be yes. Tony Dutra summed up the argument for Bloomberg (subscription required): Policy Focus in Fed. Cir. Patent Exhaustion Review. Here's an excerpt of his analysis:
Most members of the court appeared prepared to distinguish patent law because there is no Patent Act statutory equivalent to the Copyright Act's provision. However, the discussion turned more to policy questions as the 90-minute argument proceeded. Some judges essentially said that the harm to the copyright holder in Kirtsaeng—books priced more cheaply overseas and imported for less than the U.S. price—was minimal compared to the harm to, for example, AIDS patients in Africa, unless patentees can engage in drug price discrimination.You can listen to the oral argument yourself here. (Bill Vobach also maintains a helpful key to judge voices.) The most extensive discussion of the issue of AIDS drugs starts at 1:16:02. Barbara Fiacco, arguing for BIO as amicus, discusses the importance of a no-exhaustion rule for allowing regional pricing and preventing arbitrage at 1:05:21.