The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that a district court abused its discretion by failing to consider the eBay factors in connection with a denial of a motion for permanent injunction. Ecolab, Inc. v. FMC Corp., Case Nos. 08-1228, -1252 (Fed. Cir., June 9, 2009) (Gajarsa, J.).
Ecolab, Inc. and FMC Corp. sell chemicals used to sanitize meat, and both companies own patents for meat sanitation methods. Ecolab sued FMC for patent infringement; FMC counterclaimed that Ecolab was the infringing party. A jury found that both parties infringed each other’s patents and awarded damages to both. Ecolab and FMC both moved for a permanent injunction. The district court denied the motions without explanation.
On appeal, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s denial of FMC’s motion for a permanent injunction and remanded with instructions that the district court perform the analysis required by the Supreme court in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC. In eBay, the Supreme Court set forth the four traditional and equitable factors to consider in determining whether a patentee is entitled to a permanent injunction. The patentee must demonstrate that it has suffered an irreparable injury; remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.
In this case, “the district court failed to consider any of the eBay factors and failed to make any factual findings regarding those factors. That is an abuse of discretion.” Sufficient factual findings are necessary for the Federal Circuit to have a basis for review of the grant or denial of an injunction.