According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California abused its discretion when it granted a preliminary injunction against the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus pursuant to a patent infringement suit currently before that court.
The CAFC’s decision cements the process for determining whether a preliminary injunction should issue. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, 547 U.S. 388 (2006), the traditional four factors of whether a preliminary injunction should issue “apply with equal force to the Patent Act.” Id. at 391. Those factors are:
- The movant is likely to succeed on the merits of his case;
- The movant risks suffering irreparable harm if the injunction does not issue, though the CAFC has held that a patent infringement plaintiff must also show that the harm is sufficiently connected to the infringement, the relevant question being to what extent the harm suffered can be ascribed to the alleged infringement;
- The balance of equities tips in the movant’s favor; and
- The injunction is in the public interest.
Here, the CAFC held that the District Court abused its discretion because there is an insufficient proof of any nexus between the infringing features and the sales of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Thus, any irreparable harm suffered by Apple cannot be ascribed to Samsung’s alleged infringement of the patent in question.