Tuesday, May 16, 2006

SCOTUS holds that traditional factors for granting injunctions apply in patent infringement actions

In Ebay v. Mercexchange, the Supreme Court held that a federal court considering whether to award permanent injunctive relief to a prevailing plaintiff should apply the traditional four factor test historically employed by courts of equity: (1) that plaintiff has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction. In this case, the federal circuit had ruled that courts will issue permanent injunctions against patent infringement unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The case had been closely watched by businesses of all types. High-tech companies said that they needed protection from "patent trolls," small companies that sue larger firms over ideas they have never developed into products.

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