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Abstract

In proscribing contributory infringement of patents, § 271(c) of Title 35 of the United States Code unambiguously provides statutory protection for certain unpatented components of patented combinations and certain unpatented materials or apparatuses used in patented processes. The doctrine of implied license provides a viable defense against claims of contributory infringement. Such a finding may result from a variety of related doctrines, such as the exhaustion doctrine or the doctrine of equitable estoppel. However, unlike the Supreme Court’s application of the former doctrine in Dawson Chemical Co. v. Rohm & Haas Co., involving an unpatentedchemical used in a patented process, the Federal Circuit’s application of the latter doctrine in Anton/Bauer, Inc. v. PAG, Ltd., involving an unpatented component of a patented combination, served to permanently abrogate a patentee’s right to the limited monopoly provided by § 271(c)—the § 271(c) monopoly right. This comment examines these differing standards and argues that unless modified to properly account for the § 271(c) monopoly right, the Anton/Bauer implied license standard will substantially weaken the protection against contributory infringement afforded by § 271(c).

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