Exhaustion of rights and digital content

Where physical goods are concerned, there have long been limits on the extent to which the owner of the intellectual property (IP) rights in a product can use those rights to control how and where that product is distributed.

Should the same principle apply to digital ‘goods’, and if so how? Courts have recently been grappling with this with important consequences for the development of digital distribution models and cloud computing.

This principle is a feature of IP law in many territories, including the EU where it is known as ‘exhaustion of rights’, and the US where the ‘first sale doctrine’ comes into play. Once the article in question has been put onto the market with the rights owner’s consent — the ‘first sale‘ — the right to control distribution is generally exhausted and the buyer can sell on without the rights owner’s consent. But there are limits on how far the principle applies, and two important ones have been examined by the courts recently…

If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the rest of the Taylor Wessing briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below. 

Briefings from Taylor Wessing

View more briefings from Taylor Wessing

Analysis from The Lawyer

  • merger deal

    Corporate crunch time: who will triumph at The Lawyer Awards 2014?

    As the equity capital markets rocketed back into favour and global M&A saw at least a partial return to form, there have been some rich pickings for The Lawyer’s Corporate Team of the Year award shortlisted firms in 2014. 

  • singapore orchid

    Singapore: Cash course

    The city-state is working hard to become a global wealth management hub, and law firms are gearing up for a prosperous new world

View more analysis from The Lawyer


5 New Street Square

Turnover (£m): 228.00
No. of lawyers: 860
Jurisdiction: UK
No. of offices: 4
No. of qualified lawyers: 67 (International 50)