Supreme Court Says Injunction Doesn't Always Make Sense In Patent Disputes

from the about-time dept

The Supreme Court rarely looks at patent cases, usually considering them rather boring commercial disputes. So, the fact that they've been looking at a variety of patent cases lately is worth paying attention to. In the first, and perhaps most well publicized case, the question of whether or not the correct remedy for infringement should be to shut down the infringer has been reviewed, and the court has sided with eBay over MercExchange -- saying that automatic injunctions are not always the proper remedy. Note that the case has absolutely nothing to do with the validity of the patents in question (which are, of course, in dispute), but simply over whether or not a company found infringing on a patent should automatically have any infringing products banned from the market place. The issue here is that many patent holders like the injunctions because it's a huge stick, that could potentially put competitors completely out of business. This puts more pressure on the firms that are being sued to simply settle, rather than actually go through with the process of finding out if the patents are valid and if they actually infringe. While some groups are already complaining about this ruling, it actually does seem quite balanced. It doesn't take away the ability to issue an injunction at all. It simply says that it shouldn't be an automatic. Instead, the court needs to weigh a variety of factors in determining if an injunction makes sense, given the infringement. This seems perfectly reasonable, and it's hard to see how (as the upset Ronald J. Riley, of the Professional Inventors Alliance states) this amounts to a compulsory license at all. The injunction isn't taken away as a possible remedy -- but, instead, the court gets to look at all the factors in determining if it's a fair remedy, which seems... well... fair.


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  •  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, May 15th, 2006 @ 11:29am

    Too late for RIM

    This decision may well have shifted the balance of power sufficiently that RIM would not have had to pay that $612 Million.

    Cold comfort for RIM to see the Supreme Court slap down the Federal Court like that after the fact.

    This is bad enough and serious enough that there should be a round of resignations from the Court of Appeal if those guys had any sense of responsibility.

     

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    Jo Blo, May 15th, 2006 @ 12:59pm

    they suck

    fuckers!

     

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    Jo Blo, May 15th, 2006 @ 12:59pm

    they suck

    fuckers!

     

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    angry dude, May 15th, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    fuck them all

    I am out of this fucking inventing thing.

    So patent is not a property anymore, every large corp can wilfully infringe it without much danger to their operations down the road.
    Almost like an invitation to infringe

     

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      RareButSeriousSideEffects, May 15th, 2006 @ 4:27pm

      Re: fuck them all

      As a small / solo creator of intellectual property, I have to disagree: The courts' itchy-trigger-fingers with injunctions is a much bigger threat to me than this ruling. Are you really more worried the possibility of infringement than you are by the increasing number of patent trolls?

      This ruling represents a very small & long-overdue correction in IP law. If your patents truly meet the originality & non-obviousness tests, I don't see why this ruling would cause you to lose confidence in your ability to protect them.

       

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        ThinkSolveDo, May 16th, 2006 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re: f*ck them all

        This ruling represents a very small & long-overdue correction in IP law. If your patents truly meet the originality & non-obviousness tests, I don't see why this ruling would cause you to lose confidence in your ability to protect them.

        It often is not confidence that controls the outcome of a patent case but the size of your pocket book. Bigger companies have a clear advantage when dealing with patent cases. That is obvious.

        The key is to give a fair chance to both sides. And when you have a big corp and a small inventor it is often not easy to be fair.

        I have seem some crazy stuff in my days. The truth is many large companies would rather give up a huge market than pay a small royalty. Until that changes we will all be driving pintos and eating red dye number #.

        Sorry for spelling errors I am in a rush to a meeting to work on my IP. Great Day to you all.

         

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          Mike (profile), May 16th, 2006 @ 10:31am

          Re: Re: Re: f*ck them all

          I have seem some crazy stuff in my days. The truth is many large companies would rather give up a huge market than pay a small royalty

          Perhaps that's because they don't think they're infringing, and those companies actually stand by their principles...

           

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            angry dude, May 16th, 2006 @ 11:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: f*ck them all

            Mike wrote: "Perhaps that's because they don't think they're infringing, and those companies actually stand by their principles..."

            Mike, you are really starting to annoy me...
            You are either a complete moron or a paid corporate stooge

            Have you ever talked to some MShit managers, for example, about some super-duper patented technology of yours you spent years inventing and refining ?

            You should try it once before talking some BS about corporate pronciples.
            The only pronciple they have is steal as much as you can from all small guys, and when cought stealing drag the litigation for as long as possible to bankrupt the small guy.
            That is called "corporate ethics" nowdays.
            So just shut up and listen to somebody who knows what's going on.
            Or ask some other small guys like Carlos Armando Amado
            or burst.com founder etc. etc. etc.

             

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              Mike (profile), May 16th, 2006 @ 11:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: f*ck them all

              angry dude,

              What's amusing is that you repeatedly yell at us, calling us morons and stooges and telling us to "shut up." Yet, you have not once, EVER, backed up an argument.

              We, on the other hand, repeatedly explain our reasoning, point to historical evidence that what we say is true.

              So, come on, back something up. Cursing at us doesn't help your credibility. Claiming Microsoft is evil doesn't help your credibility.

              As for this ridiculous strawman:

              Have you ever talked to some MShit managers, for example, about some super-duper patented technology of yours you spent years inventing and refining ?

              Why would I do that? Instead, I'd do exactly what I have done: which is focus on commercializing stuff myself and competing in the marketplace.

              So, I'm sorry, saying I can't comment on this because I haven't done something idiotic like give away what I'm planning to do to the competition doesn't make much sense to me. I have enough business sense to know NOT TO DO THAT in the first place.

               

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                angry dude, May 16th, 2006 @ 11:54am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: f*ck them all

                Moron,
                patents are all about public disclosure.

                It is your decisioin whether to patent something or to keep it as a trade secret.
                But when you keep something new and non-obvious as a trade secret , the progress is not promoted, don';t you get it ?
                That's why they established patent systme in the first place.

                Enjoy your fuckinh "business sense" while your can,. as far as progress is conbcerned, you have contributed zero, zilch, nothing...

                 

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                  Joe Smith, May 16th, 2006 @ 4:07pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: f*ck them all

                  Moron, patents are all about public disclosure.

                  That may be the theory but not the reaility and I prefer to live in the real world.

                  Many patents seem to be written so that they are incomprehensible and then they are filed in a way which makes them practically inaccessible.

                  Where is the evidence that anyone goes looking through patents when they need a solution to a problem or want new product ideas?

                   

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                  Mike (profile), May 16th, 2006 @ 7:23pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: f*ck them all

                  Moron,

                  Right, again, thank you for keeping the dialogue at a high level, and avoiding insults. It makes us take you so much more seriously.

                  patents are all about public disclosure.

                  Public disclosure is one aspect of patents, but in most of these cases, public disclosure is not an issue at all. With business model patents and broad patents like "buy it now" what is the benefit of disclosure? There isn't any.

                  Enjoy your fuckinh "business sense" while your can,. as far as progress is conbcerned, you have contributed zero, zilch, nothing...

                  I think our customers would disagree, but that's because I'm actually providing value to them, rather than cursing people out and threatening to sue everyone while telling them all I'm smarter and them so they should shut up.

                  You'd be amazed at how treating customers nicely and providing them value works wonders -- whereas insulting everyone and acting like a jerk tends to turn people against you.

                   

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    Lawrence B. Ebert, May 15th, 2006 @ 4:55pm

    Of --This puts more pressure on the firms that are being sued to simply settle, rather than actually go through with the process of finding out if the patents are valid and if they actually infringe. -- the issue in the eBay case pertained to a permanent injunction, which (in the old law) could only issue AFTER validity and infringement were established.

    By strongly endorsing the conventional 4-part inquiry as a matter of law, the Supreme Court is giving its answer to the "patent troll" issue as a matter of policy.

     

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      Lawrence B. Ebert, May 18th, 2006 @ 6:47pm

      This is patent reform?

      IPBiz: The eBay case is a curious solution to issues of patent reform. Rather than solving the direct upstream problem (get the patent examination done right in the first place), one relaxes the downstream rules, so the picture gets fuzzier. Maybe there will be an injunction, maybe there won't be. Kinda depends on what I think about the patent (although I've determined it valid, it might be like a business method or a law of nature, so I'll discount it a bit) and the addiction the public has developed to the infringing product (if there's lots of infringing product, the public interest might be to continue the use, so I'll weight that factor for the infringer because he's been a very successful infringer). And the patentee does get money damages. Of course, patentee didn't get to pick who developed his invention, or how it developed, but patentee should be grateful because someone developed it.

       

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    Georgy, May 15th, 2006 @ 7:52pm

    Patents != Property

    angry dude, patents *never were property*. The idea that you can solely posess an idea, method, or process is absurd. The idea that you can prevent another from posessing the same idea at the same time is absurd. Unless you believe you have powers to control the thoughts of others, patents-as-property should have seemed ludicrous to you many many years ago.

    Even worse, patents interfere with real, tangible property rights. For example, I own a real physical computer. It has a real CPU, memory, and disk space. I bought it with my own real money. The concept that *you* can prevent me from using *my* property in any way I see fit, because you have a patent over some algorithm, is obscene.

    The only reason you *ever* thought that patents were like real physical property is because our legal system has elevated their status to this level through many years of pressure backed by big money. You've been brain-washed by the lawyers and big corporations (the only real beneficiaries of any patent system at all).

     

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      angry dude, May 15th, 2006 @ 9:43pm

      Re: Patents != Property

      Hey, Georgy,

      I know what I am talking about:
      Patents ARE PROPERTY, or at least they used to be property unbtil those motherfuckers muddied the waters.

      Thjs whole mothefuckign thing is downright unconstitutional.

      They better start changinmg US constitution or they will get a nice jucy constitutional lawsuit one day.

       

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    Gerontius, May 17th, 2006 @ 2:34am

    Why is US patent law all about punishment?

    I'm a UK patent attorney, and in the UK we also have rules about when you should or should not grant an injunction.

    One of those rules is that an injunction should only be granted if, by failing to grant an injunction, the patent holder WOULD (in the future) suffer irreparable harm. That, to me, is an "equitable" reason to grant an injunction - to prevent infringement causing damage once the accussed infringer is undoubtedly aware of the existence of the patent.

    This Supreme court decision says that you should grant an injunction is the patent holder already HAS (in the past) suffered irreperable harm. That, to me, is punishment for past patent infringement, which may have been done in complete ignorance of the existence of the patent.

    It doesn't seem right.

    Yes, the patent system says that you can be infringing a patent without knowledge, but should you be actively punished for that? In the UK, there is no such thing as punitary damages for patent infringement, only equitable relief, and that seems a lot fairer, as well as taking the pressure of the Patent Office to always be 110% sure that the patents they grant are valid.

    Just my 2c

     

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      angry dude, May 17th, 2006 @ 7:56am

      Re: Why is US patent law all about punishment?

      "This Supreme court decision says that you should grant an injunction is the patent holder already HAS (in the past) suffered irreperable harm. That, to me, is punishment for past patent infringement, which may have been done in complete ignorance of the existence of the patent. "

      It's the punishment for any patent holder without (yet) an operational bussiness based on his patent

      Talk to Dennis Kearns, he's tell you the truth

       

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    Capitalist, Aug 3rd, 2006 @ 8:50pm

    Ronald J Riley is a nutcase. He posted literally thousands of hate-filled accusations against American Express, including these comments:

    'I was implying that the Amex family was inbreeding.'

    'If I am in the mood for a bit of fun I stick the phone between my legs and pass gas.'

    'I have the ear of tens of thousands of people in the inventor community.'

    "I have been kicking the tar out of NWA for about eight years and they have been totally powerless to stop me. I estimate that the negative PR has cost NWA millions of dollars."

    "Is it true that American Express has a breeding program where they are crossbreeding their most obnoxious and ignorant staff to produce a superior race of Amex shills?"

    "I am willing to bet that all three of them can't figure out when they need to wipe unless head stooge tells them."

    "I believe that this is their form of foreplay, and that they are getting ready to mate. I surmise that they are planning to produce genetically tailored offspring for American Express."

    'The top dogs are most full of dodo and as the dodo spreads out each successively lower tier gets covered.'

    'To be blunt, I make my living by eating CEO's lunches. I am very good at it.'

    'The way you conduct yourself comes across as a young male with raging hormones. Either that or you have one of the worse cases of thingy envy I have ever seen in a women.'

    "I am a credentialed investigative journalist."


    This is a SMALL sample of what this idiot posted. To see it all first-hand, just look on www.amexsux.com. There is a search function available. Every quote above can be found.

    Here's the kicker....someone found out that his claim against American Express was completely bogus!

     

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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 7:45am

    Amex-Dell & Patent Piracy

    Some companies deliver great value and service, and grow and prosper as a result. Some companies think that advertising hype is an acceptable alternative to delivering value and service, their reasoning being that they can always bring more marks in with aggressive advertising. They rape their customers at every opportunity, pay no attention to customer complaints, and a few of the worst companies actually pay people to act as stooges on internet in the hope that they can silence critics. Rather than seeing customer complaints as a way to improve themselves they ignore the customers. And rather than seeing public comments as an opportunity to correct their deficiencies they have staff post garbage to the internet.

    Interestingly enough, the companies who conduct themselves in this way also are often intellectual property pirates. The truth is that when companies are suffering from a moral and ethical rot that the ailment manifests itself in may ways. Look at Dell, a card carrying member of the Coalition for Patent Fairness, better known as the Coalition for Patent Piracy. Dell apparently sat on information for nearly two years about their incendiary notebooks and they have long had a rep for their poor conduct with other's intellectual property. And Dell is a legend in their own time for terrible service.

    So Dell and American Express have many common corporate traits and it behooves consumers to be informed and to shun doing business with them.

    The party posting as "Capitalist" is not the same "Capitalist" who is registered on the www.AmexSux.com web site, this kind of hijacking of other people's handles is another example of a lack of moral fiber. Amex stooges use many aliases and are frequent posters to the AmexSux web site. He-she-it posts so often that they either have an exceptionally shallow life or they are a paid corporate stooge. One thing is certain, and that is that entrepreneurs should never do business with American Express. Amex's track record, as opposed to all the propaganda they push through their PR department is telling.

    One last point, Amex is a supporter of the Coalition for Patent Piracy via a trade association.
    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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    hemant, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:59pm

    injunction

     

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