By Marc Albert Robinson
| May 17, 2012
Further to our prior post concerning the recent CAFC Appeal Decision, on May 14, 2012, the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction to plaintiff Apple for its design patent D504,889 for a tablet.  The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's decision denying a preliminary injunction with regard to two other design patents and a utility patent drawn to smartphones.

The dissent by circuit Judge O'Malley urged the majority to immediately enter a preliminary injunction for design patent D504,889.  The majority remanded the decision to the district court to complete the analysis of the balance of the hardship factors and the public interest factors, which were only performed for the smartphone patents by the district court.  The dissent argues that these factors favor Apple with respect to the tablet patent D504,889, and that this analysis should not be remanded to the district court, as the delay would further prejudice Apple.  In particular, Judge O'Malley stated on p. 2 of the dissent that:

the majority’s decision to remand this matter for further proceedings relating to the D’889 Patent is unwarranted because: (1) remand will cause unnecessary delay, which is inconsistent with the very purpose of preliminary injunctive relief; and (2) once we reject its validity analysis, the district court’s decision, taken in its entirety, reveals that all of the prerequisites for preliminary injunctive relief are satisfied. Remand is particularly inappropriate where, as here, both this court and the district court agree that Apple will suffer irreparable harm absent injunctive relief. The majority’s decision to remand for further proceedings will only exacerbate that harm.

Judge O'Malley emphasizes that injunctive relief is a "drastic remedy" and "exists for a reason to provide speedy relief from irreparable injury." Although Judge O'Malley acknowledges that the district court did not make any findings with regard to the balance of hardships and the public interest with respect to the tablet patent D504,889, Judge O'Malley argues that the record from the district court is complete and sufficient for determining that an injunction should be entered.  Of note, Judge O'Malley at pp. 11-12 of the dissent states:

As this court has recognized, “[a]lthough the public interest inquiry is not necessarily or always bound to the likelihood of success o[n] the merits, . . . absent any other relevant concerns . . . the public is best served by enforcing patents that are likely valid and infringed.” Abbott Labs. v. Andrx Pharm., Inc., 452 F.3d 1331, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2006). So too here, because the record at this stage shows that the D’889 Patent is likely valid and infringed, and there are no other relevant concerns, the public interest is best served by granting a preliminary injunction.

Concerning the balance of hardships requirement, Judge O'Malley states at p. 10 of the dissent that the balance of hardships weighs in Apple's favor because it has an interest in enforcing its patent rights.  As we previously noted in our prior post, Samsung is rolling out the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, which has a different bezel than the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and appears to be poised as a replacement in the marketplace.  Below is an image from Samsung's product page for the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.



The design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is not identical to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N (see our prior post concerning the "Design Around" in Germany last year).  Since the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 appears to be poised as a replacement in the marketplace, the court may view the balance of hardships as weighing further in Apple's favor because Samsung has already "designed around" the tablet patent D504,889 (presuming the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 does not infringe the tablet patent D504,889).

Edward Tracy contributed to this post.

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