Posts Tagged: "Injunctions"

Examining the Circuit Split on Preliminary Injunctions in False Advertising Post-eBay

In responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 challenges, companies around the world are rushing to capitalize on the current crisis by advertising the effectiveness of their products in containing the virus spread. Among these ads and messages, some may be useful in building the public’s confidence and marketing effective products to consumers, but some may mislead and deceive desperate consumers into buying treatments and products without any scientific support. As fear and anxiety proliferate during this pandemic, fraudulent or false advertisements also surge and explode. Petitioners raise false advertising claims and try to stop misleading advertisements by seeking injunctions. However, the injunction standard in the false advertising context is still the subject of debate.

The New U.S. Essential Patents Statement – Safeguarding the Integrity of the Patent System

In withdrawing the 2013 statement, the new 2019 guidance by the DOJ, NIST and the USPTO states the obvious, i.e. that there is no difference in the law between F/RAND assured standard essential patents and all other patents. While some would have perhaps liked to break the unitarity approach of the patent system so as to weaken remedies against the infringement of essential patents, a legal system that would apply a different standard to standard essential patents as opposed to other patents would violate U.S. trade obligations.

Masters Offer Hope for Patents Despite Current Challenges

Experts speaking during IPWatchdog’s Virtual Patent Masters Symposium yesterday expressed concern over the state of the U.S. patent system, but also offered a number of solutions, and many took a cautiously optimistic outlook for the future. In one session, Patent Masters Q. Todd Dickinson of Polsinelli, Judge Theodore Essex of Hogan Lovells, Retired Chief Judge Paul Michel, and Robert Stoll of Drinker Biddle discussed the Supreme Court case eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, wherein the former bright line rule of issuing permanent injunctions was replaced by a four-factor test according to familiar rules of equity that apply to all areas of law. While the consensus among the Masters was that eBay has created a multitude of problems, Judge Michel pointed out that eBay has been misinterpreted by the district courts.

The Impact of Overturning eBay v. MercExchange

At a time when most policymakers rightly argue that China and other countries need to do more to clamp down on intellectual property infringement, overturning the four-factor eBay test would impose new hurdles and increase the PAE problem that Congress and the Supreme Court have fought to address over that last two decades. The risk that an implementer engages in “efficient infringement” has made the ITC an increasingly attractive forum, for at least some patent owners and notably not PAEs. ITC exclusion orders and cease and desist orders are the last vestige of the exclusivity promised to the right patent owners at the time they are granted a patent. Compared to proposed sections of the STRONGER Patents Act, the ITC strikes a balance between offering at least some patent owners the ability to prevent infringers from engaging in the never-ending game of “efficient infringement” while frustrating PAEs attempts to abuse the exclusionary remedies offered.  Congressional action should be reserved for a time when there is clear evidence that the eBay decision is harming U.S. businesses and those U.S. businesses are unable to obtain the relief they need at the ITC. At this time, there is no such evidence.

Why eBay v. MercExchange Should, But Won’t, Be Overruled

As anyone who follows the United States Supreme Court knows, the Court has historically been extremely fond of taking important cases with cutting edge issues, only to dodge the real issues and address some insignificant procedural or hyper-technical issue. Such disappointment is all too frequent, so Supreme Court watchers are seldom surprised when the Court passes on an opportunity to breathe clarity into otherwise unsettled waters. But what the Supreme Court did in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange LLC, 547 U.S. 388 (2006) was far more disappointing. In eBay, the Supreme Court decided to throw out longstanding and well-established Federal Circuit jurisprudence and offered little or nothing in its place. The result has been an extraordinary shift in the balance of power between patent owners and infringers.

Obtaining Injunctions Under eBay Versus at the International Trade Commission

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in eBay v. MercExchange, 547 US 388 (2006), it was fairly routine for a victorious patent owner who prevailed on a finding of infringement in a federal district court litigation to assume that a permanent injunction would issue to prevent ongoing infringement. Despite the STRONGER Patents Act seeking to overturn eBay, Congress at large has no desire to disturb this Supreme Court decision and any bill that contains a provision overruling eBay cannot be enacted. In light of eBay, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which has always played a large role in patent litigation and enforcement strategies because of its statutory authority to issue exclusion orders and cease and desist orders, emerged as an important forum for patent owners.

Top Secret: How to Successfully Build a Trade Secrets Case

When an employee who has left a company to work for a competitor shares a coveted trade secret, his or her former employer can experience devastating effects, including lost business and reputational damage. As a result, the former employer may want to file a lawsuit; and to stop the former employee and the competitor from using the proprietary information while the suit is pending, the employer can also seek preliminary injunctive relief. Preliminary injunctive relief requires an evidentiary showing that the former employer is suffering irreparable harm. That is, harm that cannot be remedied with money damages. The former employer must also show a likelihood that the employer will prevail on its claim against the former employee. As such, the former employer must develop preliminary evidence that the information taken is a secret that is not readily ascertainable from public sources, that the employer took reasonable precautions to protect the information from disclosure, that the former employee took the information without authority and is using the information or has disclosed the information to others. If successful, the former employee, and those acting in concert with the former employee, will be enjoined from using the former employer’s information while the litigation proceeds. As such, seeking and obtaining preliminary injunctive relief can, and is often, an important milestone in a trade secret case.

A Step Forward for the STRONGER Patents Act

The bipartisan STRONGER Patents Act of 2019 took an important step forward last week, as the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held a hearing on the proposed legislation. Senators Tillis and Coons, the Subcommittee’s Chairman and Ranking Member, should be commended for holding the hearing and focusing attention on our patent system’s role in promoting American innovation and job creation. As several of the hearing witnesses made clear in their testimony, our patent system has been dangerously weakened in recent years through a series of judicial, legislative, and administrative changes. These changes have undermined patent rights and made it difficult for inventors to protect their innovations from infringement. Meanwhile, our foreign competitors, including China and Europe, have strengthened their patent rights. This has put us at a competitive disadvantage and helped contribute to a trend of both innovation and venture capital increasingly moving overseas. For example, the U.S. share of global venture capital fell from 66% in 2010 to 40% in 2018, while China’s share increased from 12% to 38% in the same time period. And despite more than a decade of economic growth following the Great Recession of 2007-2009, startup formation has failed to return to its pre-recession levels.

Senate Hearing on STRONGER Patents Act Highlights Sharp Split on Injunctive Relief, IPR Fixes

On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 11, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property convened a hearing titled Innovation in America: How Congress Can Make Our Patent System STRONGER. The hearing focused on the STRONGER Patents Act, a piece of legislation that has been reintroduced into both houses of Congress, the Senate portion of which has been co-sponsored by the Senate IP Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), fellow Subcommittee members Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Judiciary Committee member John Kennedy (R-LA) and Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND). Sources at IPWatchdog’s Patent Masters Symposium this week said that the bill still faces many obstacles to passage. However, according to Senator Coons’ Office, the bill has wide bipartisan support in the House as well. The panel for the hearing was evenly split between supporters and detractors of the proposed law, and most of the discussion focused on the injunctive relief and inter partes review (IPR) provisions of the bill.

Coons and Stivers Reintroduce Measure to Make the U.S. Patent System STRONGER

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) reintroduced the STRONGER Patents Act of 2019 today in an event on Capitol Hill. Coons first introduced the STRONG Patents Act in 2015, which then became the STRONGER Patents Act in 2017. This latest iteration, like the iterations before, seeks to take a number of steps to strengthen patent protections and…

Judge Paul Michel: Look to Congress, Not Courts, to Fix the U.S. Patent System

During a break at IPWatchdog’s recent Patent Masters™ Symposium, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel went on record to express his grave concerns about the U.S. patent system and where he believes it’s headed. Like many of the Patent Masters, Michel’s view was decidedly grim, but he did express optimism about the new IP leadership in Congress. Following are Judge Michel’s remarks in full.

Latest Apple/Qualcomm Ruling Highlights Question of ‘Unwilling Licensees’

On March 20, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the Southern District of California issued an order denying a motion by Apple, which was seeking partial judgment against Qualcomm on that company’s claim that it had fulfilled its fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) obligations for licensing its standard-essential patents (SEPs). As a result, Qualcomm can move ahead with its efforts to prove that its SEP portfolio licensing activities have met the company’s FRAND obligations and that Apple has forfeited its right to FRAND licensing because it hasn’t been a willing licensee.The court sided with Qualcomm in finding that Apple’s arguments regarding the unsuccessful licensing negotiations presented a definite and concrete controversy. Qualcomm had cited to a 2017 Eastern District of Texas case, Huawei Techs. Co. v. T-Mobile US, Inc., to show an instance where a court had found subject-matter jurisdiction in a case where a patent holder sought a declaration that it had complied with FRAND obligations. In the current case, Apple hadn’t stated unequivocally that it wouldn’t pursue a stand-alone breach of contract action, giving rise to a substantial controversy with sufficient immediacy and reality to justify declaratory relief. A favorable outcome to Qualcomm on this claim would afford additional relief, as Qualcomm could demonstrate that Apple had engaged in unreasonable holdout behavior, relieving Qualcomm of further FRAND obligations towards Apple.

The Tough Act of Balancing Preliminary Injunction Factors: Indivior Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, S. A. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

How the likelihood of success on the merits should (or should not) be determined and the four factors balanced in a patent infringement case, are areas in which there has been significant disagreement among the judges of the Federal Circuit… Whether or not to grant the extraordinary relief of preliminary injunction to a patentee is a matter largely within the discretion of the trial court. This discretion is to be exercised in consistence with traditional principles of equity, grounded on well-articulated principles, and based on long-held precedents.  Grant or denial of a preliminary injunction by a trial court may be overturned only upon a showing of abuse of discretion by the trial court.  Failing to consider the totality of the preliminary injunction factors during review can lead to an outcome inconsistent with the requirements of equity.

Apple Removes ‘Minor Functionality’ from iPhone in Response to Chinese Injunction

On December 10, 2018, a Chinese court granted Qualcomm an injunction against Apple that stops sales and imports of most iPhones in China.  On December 12, Apple announced that as a result of the Chinese injunction, “early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the…

Fitness Anywhere win Enhanced Damages and Permanent Injunction as Infringement Continued Post Verdict

The order granted post-trial motions filed by Fitness Anywhere both for enhanced damages on the patent infringement findings as well as a permanent injunction against WOSS. Although it wasn’t likely that Fitness Anywhere would recoup the total enhanced patent damages of more than $11 million dollars from WOSS, having recently declared bankruptcy, Villeneuve noted that this decision set an important precedent for the company. Such a ruling was very important to TRX, which has lost sales and has had to layoff employees in California because of the actions of infringing parties. Villeneuve said that the single most important factor leading to the grant of permanent injunction was WOSS’ sale of infringing products after the jury verdict.