When is a Patent Owner Entitled to a Court Order Stopping Infringement?

apple v samsung

Consider this scenario: you have gone to all the time and expense to obtain a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.   You have launched your product and your sales are good.  Now a pirate is copying your product and stealing your sales.  Are you entitled to a court order stopping infringement of your patent?

Before the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of eBay v MercExchange in 2006, the answer would have been a resounding ‘yes.’  After the eBay case, the patent holder must demonstrate, among other things, ‘irreparable harm’ from the infringement and that an award of money damages to the patent holder is not enough to compensate the patent holder.  It is not enough to show harm – the patent holder must show that copying of the features specifically protected by the patent caused the harm.

The most recent application of the eBay decision is the ongoing worldwide Apple v Samsung litigation.  Apple recently proved that among other things Samsung copied Apple’s patented designs for the iPhone and iPad.  Apple was awarded a money judgment for $1.049 billion (that’s billion, with a ‘b’).   The trial judge decided on December 17 that Apple is not entitled to an injunction stopping Samsung from selling the infringing products.  The judge concluded that Apple did not show that the harm to Apple resulted from the specific infringement in question.  Apple still has the right to appeal the denial of the injunction to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.  Stay tuned.

– Robert Yarbrough, Esq.

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