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The Mercoid cases—Mercoid Corp. v. Mid-Continent Investment Co., 320 U.S. 661 (1944), and Mercoid Corp. v. Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co., 320 U.S. 680 (1944)—are 1944 patent tie-in misuse and antitrust decisions of the United States Supreme Court. These companion cases are said to have reached the "high-water mark of the patent misuse doctrine." The Court substantially limited the contributory infringement doctrine by holding unlawful tie-ins of "non-staple" unpatented articles that were specially adapted only for use in practicing a patent, and the Court observed: "The result of this decision, together with those which have preceded it, is to limit substantially the doctrine of contributory infringement. What residuum may be left we need not stop to consider." The Court also suggest
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The Mercoid Cases
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The Mercoid cases—Mercoid Corp. v. Mid-Continent Investment Co., 320 U.S. 661 (1944), and Mercoid Corp. v. Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co., 320 U.S. 680 (1944)—are 1944 patent tie-in misuse and antitrust decisions of the United States Supreme Court. These companion cases are said to have reached the "high-water mark of the patent misuse doctrine." The Court substantially limited the contributory infringement doctrine by holding unlawful tie-ins of "non-staple" unpatented articles that were specially adapted only for use in practicing a patent, and the Court observed: "The result of this decision, together with those which have preceded it, is to limit substantially the doctrine of contributory infringement. What residuum may be left we need not stop to consider." The Court also suggested that an attempt to extend the reach of a patent beyond its claims could or would violate the antitrust laws: "The legality of any attempt to bring unpatented goods within the protection of the patent is measured by the antitrust laws, not by the patent law." In response to the Mercoid cases, the patent bar eventually persuaded Congress to limit the sweep of these rulings by enacting sections 271(c) and (d) of the patent code in 1952. Those provisions rolled back to some extent the law on contributory infringement and tie-ins. Subsection (c) defined unlawful contributory infringement as the knowing sale of a non-staple product that is a material part of the invention and is specially adapted for the infringement of the patent—essentially, products without any use except infringement. Subsection (d) made it not misuse or illegal extension of patent rights for a patentee to derive revenue from what would be contributory infringement. The Supreme Court in 1980 characterized this legislation limiting Mercoid as a compromise between the doctrines of misuse and contributory infringement.
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