Joff Wild's article IAM After China Win, Qualcomm Follows Up with A German Injunction suggests China is stepping up its patent enforcement game.
China has been more lax in enforcing patents than the United States until recently. For many years, US courts automatically granted injunctions after a patent was held valid, enforceable, and infringed. 35 U.S.C. §154 suggested that they should be granted given a patent grants the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention in the United States during the patent term.
But that routine grant of injunctions really stopped after EBay v. MercExchange. There the Supreme Court repudiated the Federal Circuit's practice of automatically granting injunctions. It recognized courts should grant injunctions in accordance with equity to prevent violation of patent rights on such terms as the court deems reasonable. 35 U.S.C. § 283. EBay basically set up some hurdles after a patent owner won its case. Going forward the patent owner seeking a permanent injunction would also need to demonstrate it satisfied a four factor test:
(1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury;
(2) that remedies available at law 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.
Courts can grant permanent injunctions as part of a final judgment between competitors, but proving the four factors can be a challenge for patent owners when it involves non-competitors in the United States. Even though injunctions are becoming more common in China and Germany it was surprising to see how rapidly a chip designer such as Qualcomm was granted a preliminary injunction (not easy to get in the USA) against the Apple iPhone in China and a permanent injunction in Germany with no injunctive relief in sight in United States. Yes, these events suggest key patent litigation disputes may be decided on the "other side" of the earth.
Copyright © 2018 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.