Lower court judges should exercise discretion in deciding whether to grant injunctive relief in patent cases, the Supreme Court said in an important, unanimous decision today. The court overturned an earlier decision by the Federal Circuit Appeal Court which had held that injunctions stopping further patent infringement should always be granted in such cases.
Them’s the boring bits. The fun part of this case was the way it pit Big Tech—Ebay, Microsoft—against Big Pharama—like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
Big Tech has been worried about small patent holders using the courts to interfere with their provision of new services and products, or to extract huge licensing fees. Without the threat of an automatic injunction, small patent plaintiffs will have considerably less leverage in negotiating fees.
Big Pharma, however, is worried about anything that might make it cheaper and easier for others to infringe of drug patents. The drug companies are sounding the warning that the decision may stifle expensive R&D that goes into drug development.
As a test case about the costs and rewards of patent enforcement, its actually pretty sexy. Or, you know, as sexy as anything having to do with patents can possibly ever hope to be.
Supreme Court Sides With Ebay on Patent Infringement [LA Times]