In Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Appeal No. 2014-1802, the Federal Circuit reversed for abuse of discretion the denial of a permanent injunction because the moving party needed only to show “some connection” between infringement and irreparable harm to establish causal nexus.
Samsung was found to infringe Apple patents on iPhone features such as slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, and detecting data structures within text. Apple was awarded $120M in damages and moved to permanently enjoin Samsung from making, using, selling, or importing software capable of implementing the infringing features in its products. The district court denied Apple’s motion, finding Apple had not shown it would suffer irreparable harm. Specifically, the district court found Apple failed to show a causal nexus between Samsung’s infringement and the irreparable harm of Apple’s lost sales. Apple appealed.
Reviewing the district court’s denial for abuse of discretion, the Federal Circuit reversed. While the district court had required proof that the infringing features were the predominant reason why customers bought Samsung’s products, the Federal Circuit majority required only that there be some connection between the infringing features and demand for Samsung’s products. The majority held that such a connection was established by evidence that the infringing features were valued by customers and carriers, were copied by Samsung, and drove sales. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit held the district court abused its discretion when it did not permanently enjoin Samsung from engaging in activities based on the infringing features.