Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


Are Shrink Wrap Agreements Legal and Valid?

I'm about to start thinking about buying printer and computer supplies for my family, my standard geeky Christmas presents (what can I say?) and I'm wondering if some of the new 'non-compete' hardware shrink wrap agreements, where I promise not to buy a competitors product, yadda yadda, really is legally binding, or if it's all some sort of intimidation tactic? It all seems weird to me, frankly.

I bounced your question along to attorney Brett Trout, author of the book Internet Laws Affecting Your Company, and here's what he shared:

Ah, just in time for the holidays, shrink-wrapped hardware!

Everyone knows that shrink wrap agreements only limit the copying, redistribution and modification of software. Not any longer. On October 6, 2005, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling and held that, as long as the items are patented, it is okay for companies to...