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Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L'anza Research International, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
523 U.S. 135 (1998)


L’anza Research International, Inc. (L’anza) (plaintiff) made and sold hair products in the United States under a copyrighted label. L’anza restricted the resale of its products by distributors to certain retailers. L’anza sold a shipment of goods to a foreign distributor. An unknown person then imported the goods that had been shipped to the foreign distributor back into the United States. Eventually, Quality King Distributors, Inc. (Quality) (defendant) resold the goods to unauthorized retailers in the United States. L’anza sued Quality, arguing that the import of the goods containing the copyrighted labels was a violation of L’anza’s exclusive right of distribution under the Copyright Act (the Act) § 106(3) and § 602(a). Quality raised a first-sale doctrine defense under § 109(a) of the Act. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of L’anza. The court of appeals affirmed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

Concurrence (Ginsburg, J.)

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