First-Sale Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

First Sale doctrine as applied to Copyrights allows the purchaser to sell or give away a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. This does not infringe the copyright owner's exclusive distribution rights. This was subsequently codified in Copyright Act of 1976. [17 USCS § 109]

In the context of patents, this rule says that a buyer of a patented article has the right to use, repair, and resell the article without any interference from the patentee. The patentee may still retain control of the article through terms in the license or sale contract.