Apple's Argument and District Court Decision re Irreparable Harm From D'889 Infringement

As our previous blogs have mentioned, Apple’s original motion for a preliminary injunction just contained a very general section on irreparable harm outlining arguments of loss of consumer goodwill and loss of market share. Please see the previous D’677 blogs for a detailed analysis of Apple’s irreparable harm argument since the arguments there are the same ones for the D’889. What is different, however, is that time the district court did find irreparable harm. The district court had previously rejected the irreparable harm argument as to the infringement of the other three patents (D’677, D’087 and the ‘381). But, as the argument applied to D’889, the district court held that the infringement of D’889 would cause irreparable harm.

According to the district court opinion, Apple’s argument for irreparable harm was stronger here. The court identified a few main reasons for finding irreparable harm for the D’889 while not finding it for the other patents (despite the fact that Apple had advanced the same arguments for all four).  For one, the number of competitors manufacturing tablet devices is substantially lower than the number of companies manufacturing smartphones. According to the court, “because there appear to be fewer players in the tablet market, and the market is growing, it is arguably more likely that market share lost by Apple will be lost to Samsung” (Id. at 49). Another reason involved the court’s interpretation of the evidence as being far clearer on the nexus between product design and consumers’ purchasing decisions. Samsung had conducted some consumer surveys, but the court interpreted the results of that survey to provide support for “apple’s argument that consumers are likely to be induced to purchase the Galaxy 10.1, instead of the Apple iPad, because the overall designs of the products are substantially the same” (Id). Thus, here, Apple was able to establish a causal nexus between infringement of its designs and loss of market share (albeit through a Samsung consumer survey).
For these reasons, the district court found that Apple had shown the likelihood of irreparable harm as a result of Samsung’s infringement of D’889. However, because the court had also found that Apple was unlikely to prevail against a validity challenge to the D’889, the court denied Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as based on the D’889 patent.
On appeal, the federal circuit affirmed the lower court’s finding of irreparable harm. The federal circuit also had several interesting things to say on proving irreparable harm that will be discussed in our later blogs.
Please see the previous post: Federal Circuit’s Appellate Opinion re D’889 Validity for more on this topic. For more on emergency business litigation, click here or call 312-223-1699 to speak with one of our Chicago law firm attorneys.
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