The eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. case has received much attention recently because the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the notion that an injunction should issue automatically based on a finding of patent infringement. In the eBay decision, the court stated:
A plaintiff must demonstrate: (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. The decision to grant or deny such relief is an act of equitable discretion by the district court, reviewable on appeal for abuse of discretion.
In analyzing the District Courts’ treatment of this decision, it has seems that they are using eBay to deny permanent injunctions. In z4 Techs., Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 434 F. Supp. 2d 437 (E.D. Tex. June 14, 2006), Judge Leonard E. Davis declined injunctive relief on the grounds that monetary damages were an adequate remedy. The court also placed great weight upon the fact that no irreparable harm would follow in the absence of a permanent injunction. Similarly, in Paice L.L.C. v. Toyota Motor Corp., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61600 (E.D. Tex. Aug. 16, 2006) Judge David Folsom decided that the patentee was not entitled to a permanent injunction because irreparable harm lies only where injury could not be undone by monetary damages after balancing the equities with eBay‘s four part test. Again, the court made note of the fact that the patentee did not establish that it would be irreparably harmed. However, while the District Courts are seemingly often balancing the equities in favor of monetary damages, injunctions are still being issued. Rosco, Inc. v. Mirror Lite Co., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73366 (E.D.N.Y Sept. 29, 2006) saw Judge Charles P. Sifton focus on narrowly tailoring the scope of injunction to the asserted patent claims only. In that decision, Judge Sifton stated that Ã¢â?¬Å?this is not a case where a mandatory licensing scheme could adequately compensate the patent owner.Ã¢â?¬Â? Additionally, the court reasoned that equity allowed an injunction because there would be no great inconvenience to the public. So, it seems that District Courts are not hesitantating to balance the equities in favor of monetary damages and are limiting the number of permanent injunctions being granted.