Will Federal Circuit Decision Make It Easier to Secure Permanent Injunctions in Patent Cases?

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit may make it easier for patent holders to secure permanent injunctions. This is good news for companies like Apple who have found it increasingly difficult to obtain relief, even after proving infringement by a competitor.

In Presidio Components v. American Technical Ceramics, a jury found that American Technical Ceramics committed willful patent infringement and awarded Presidio $1,048,677. However, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California denied a request for a permanent injunction, based on a finding of no irreparable injury or inadequacy of monetary damages. These are two of the four factors established by the U.S. Supreme Court in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC, 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006). The other two are the balance of hardships between the parties and the public interest.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, noting that the “tension created by acknowledging competition for one purpose but not for another, combined with Presidio’s other evidence showing irreparable injury, shows that the district court clearly erred by dismissing the irreparable injury evident on this record.”

The court further stated that although a victorious patentee is not entitled to an injunction in every case, “it does not follow that courts should entirely ignore the fundamental nature of patents as property rights granting the owner the right to exclude.” It further suggested that the eBay factors should be considered “with an eye to the ‘long tradition of equity practice’ granting ‘injunctive relief upon a finding of infringement in the vast majority of patent cases.’”

Here, the court found that even without practicing the claimed invention, Presidio had demonstrated that it suffered irreparable injury. “Direct competition in the same market is certainly one factor suggesting strongly the potential for irreparable harm without enforcement of the right to exclude,” the panel added. This language is sure to be raised by Apple as it continues to seek a permanent injunction against its rival, Samsung.

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