Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Permanent injunctions not "automatic" in patent infringements

The Supreme Court, Monday, “handed a victory to patent-reform advocates in ruling that a small company whose patent had been infringed upon by eBay, Inc. was not automatically entitled to a court order blocking an offending service,” judges in such cases having the flexibility of deciding whether or not an issuance of an injunction was appropriate, according to an article. (Opinion)

In the initial District Court trial, a jury had found that there had been a patent infringement and that damages were appropriate, but the Court had denied the motion for a permanent injunction against eBay. On review, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed, applying its “general rule that courts will issue permanent injunctions against patent infringement absent exceptional circumstances.” The Supreme Court Monday vacated & remanded that decision, holding that “the traditional four-factor test applied by courts of equity when considering whether to award permanent injunctive relief applies to disputes arising under the Patent Act,” citing Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305 (1982) in that “major departure from the long tradition of equity practice should not be lightly applied.”

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