Licenses vs. patents - oh my!
The real crux of this suit is going to hit on where a patent ends and a license begins. Furthermore, it may go so far as to trigger the determination of the legality of a license on a patented product.
I mean, let's look at the implications here. I buy a car from Ford. Contained in the car are components that are patented and licensed by Ford from various suppliers. Let's say that one of the components is the valve cam shaft, made by Ford under license from Edelbrock. I decide that the cam is perfect for use in my GM engine and swap it in.
Have I illegally deprived Ford and Edelbrock of their patent rights? Is the cam shaft licensed to me via Ford's sales agreement, or do I need to pay Edelbrock an additional fee to license the use of this device in an vehicle that is not already licensed for its use?
Worse, if I publish my findings in "Street Rod" magazine, am I guilty of piracy by encouraging others to violate the patent and licenses that are part of the use for this device?
This is where the patent exhaustion claims are going to end up. Every device, every component that contains a patent are going to be handled the same way that software is handled today - you are going to have to pay a fee to SOMEONE (probably the SAE - the automotive equivalent of RIAA?) in order to sell or reuse a component that is part of an automobile. No more shade-tree sales, no more trade-in allowances from dealers - everyone will have to pay fees to allow the licenses to be transferred. As soon as the corporate lawyers figure out that this is another source of income, you betcha that this will become the operating norm.
ON THE OTHER HAND...
If patent exhaustion is upheld by the Supremes, then Microsoft, IBM, etc. etc. will all be facing similar suits on the restrictions placed on software licenses. Unless they change the wording of the EULA to explicitly state that the purchaser is not a purchaser, but is paying a one-time LEASE for the use of the software, the term of said lease to be determined and enforced by the lessor. The same for anything that contains a patented component - you'll be leasing the use of that component for what ever duration the lessor decides.
I'm obviously not a lawyer, but that's how it looks like it will play out in Peoria. Software as a Service? How about Life as as Service (LaaS).