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Injunctive Relief

Injunction allowed
When competitive wipers
Cause patentee harm

A new Federal Circuit decision has resolved some of the uncertainty about the availability of an injunction to a patent plaintiff in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in eBay v. MercExchange.  Prior to eBay, a patent plaintiff who proved the validity and infringement of its patents would be awarded an injunction against infringers as a matter of course.

In its October 12 decision in Robert Bosch LLC v. Pylon Mfg. Corp., the Federal Circuit held that a patent holder may obtain an injunction by showing that an infringing product competed with the plaintiff’s patented product and that the plaintiff was losing business due to the infringer’s activities.

The case involved beam-type wiper blades, which are considered superior to conventional “bracketed” wiper blades.  Bosch develops and sells beam blades and holds several relevant patents.

In August 2008, Bosch sued Pylon in the District of Delaware, alleging infringement of three of these patents.  After a jury trial, Bosch obtained a verdict that two these patents were valid and infringed by Pylon.  Bosch sought an injunction against sales of the infringing Pylon wiper blades, but the district judge denied this, even though Bosch presented unrebutted evidence that it had lost customers and potential customers to Pylon.

The district judge found that Bosch had failed to show “irreparable harm,” because Bosch failed to provide a clear overview of the relevant market and a breakdown of the relative market shares, because of the existence of additional competitors, and because wipers were a “non-core” business for Bosch.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit confirmed that “eBay jettisoned the presumption of irreparable harm as it applies to determining the appropriateness of injunctive relief.”  However, the Court of Appeals also found that the district court had “erred in relying exclusively on the presence of additional competitors and on the non-core nature of Bosch’s wiper blade business.”

The Court of Appeals remanded the case with directions to enter an appropriate injunction.

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