the Patent Office constitutes inequitable conduct.
Plaintiff also argues that in light of the similarities between its patented cap and the Joyce closure with respect to their structure, operation and result and since the claims of '712 can be read -- upon the Joyce closure, defendant's product clearly infringes upon plaintiff's patent.
For these reasons, plaintiff asserts that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that defendant's product, literally and under the doctrine of equivalents, infringes upon its patent. Plaintiff also argues that absent an injunction to prohibit this infringing conduct, plaintiff will be irreparably harmed since it will lose market shares, its growth in the market will be stifled, and its commercial reputation will be injured.
In addition, plaintiff claims that absent such relief prices of its licensees may be undercut and hence result in a loss of business, good will and credibility.
Finally, plaintiff argues that the equities of public policy support issuance of an injunction in this case in light of the effort it has made to develop customers, good will and the market, in comparison to the minimal cost and effort defendant has expended in copying plaintiff's product. Moreover, plaintiff asserts that public policy favors protection of the rights of patent owners and this policy is advanced when infringement upon those rights is prohibited.
In response, defendant contends that plaintiff is unlikely to successfully litigate the merits of its claim since it owns an invalid patent which embodies an invention anticipated by and obvious from the prior art. Moreover, defendant asserts that the patent is unenforceable in light of the patent applicant's breach of the duty of candor as it failed to cite relevant prior art to the Patent Office.
Defendant also asserts that as plaintiff's patent was issued in 1983, it does not represent an invention upon which there has been " long continued public acquiescence" from which validity may be presumed. Relatedly, defendant contends that plaintiff has not demonstrated that the patented product itself is related to the commercial success or that the sales of the product represent a substantial share of the market.
Defendant also argues that plaintiff has not supported its claim of copying, particularly in light of defendant's history of developing hinged closures. Defendant also claims the product in question does not literally infringe on plaintiff's product nor can it be found to be an infringing product under the doctrine of equivalents since the two caps achieve their functions in different ways.
Defendant contends further that plaintiff has not proven irreparable harm in light of its invalid patent, the absence of infringing activity, its delay in seeking emergent relief, and the lack of actual damages given the fact defendant has sold no closures.
Defendant also argues that the equities balance in its favor since the issuance of the injunction will result in the waste of funds expended in the manufacture and development of the product, and will injure defendant's reputation. Moreover, defendant argues its sales will not deprive plaintiff of its market share.
In addition, defendant contends that public policy militates against the issuance of the injunction in light of the invalidity of the patent, the inventor's inequitable conduct and plaintiff's unclean hands, as revealed by the conduct of its licensees in spreading rumors regarding defendant's allegedly infringing conduct and the alleged existence of an injunction in response to same.
In light of the above factual context and arguments, I make the following conclusions of law:
Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution specifically empowers Congress to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts." To this end, Congress has established a scheme whereby inventors may obtain patents on their inventions which gives them the right to exclude others from making, using or selling the patented invention for a period of 17 years.
The statutory framework under which patent protection is provided sets forth various mechanisms through which a patent owner may protect its rights. For instance, in order to prevent violation of any right secured by patent, the statutes vests the district court with the discretion to issue injunctive relief. 35 U.S.C. Section 283; Datascope Corp. v. Kontron, Inc., 786 F.2d 398, 399, 229 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 41 (Fed. Cir. 1986).
Under the laws of the Federal Circuit, which is the binding precedent on issues of patent law, see Libbey-Owens Ford Co. v. BOC Group, Inc., 655 F. Supp. 897, 906 (D.N.J. 1987), and cases cited therein, in order to obtain a preliminary injunction in a patent infringement action, the movant must demonstrate that:
a. it has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits;