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Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC

135 S. Ct. 2401 (2015)

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Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC

United States Supreme Court

135 S. Ct. 2401 (2015)

Facts

Stephen Kimble (plaintiff) held a patent for a glove with a can of foam string attached to it that allowed its wearers to role-play as if shooting spiderwebs from their hands. Kimble sought to license the invention to Marvel Entertainment, LLC (Marvel) (defendant), but it declined the license. Instead, Marvel began making and selling a similar glove. Kimble sued Marvel for infringement, and the parties settled by agreement containing a provision for royalties on future sales of Marvel’s glove. The agreement did not set an end date for the royalties. Marvel sought and obtained declaratory judgment that it could stop paying royalties upon the expiration of Kimble’s patent, based on the rule prohibiting royalties for post-expiration use established by Brulotte v. Thys Co., 379 U.S. 29 (1964). Kimble appealed the judgement, arguing that neither party was aware of the Brulotte rule when they entered the agreement and that the rule frustrated their expectations of the bargain. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was not happy to affirm the declaratory judgment, but it did so based on stare decisis. Certiorari was granted to determine whether Brulotte should be overruled.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kagan, J.)

Dissent (Alito, J.)

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