Sunday, July 26, 2009

9th Circuit TM decision: standards for preliminary injunction ordering product recall

The 9th Circuit recently decided that a preliminary injunction ordering a recall of infringing product should not be ordered based simply on a showing that the four traditional preliminary injunction factors favor an injunction. Rather, the court must in addition consider the following additional factors: (a) whether the infringement was willful or intentional; (b) whether the risk of confusion and injury to the trademark owner outweighs the burden of a recall; and (c) whether there is a substantial danger to the public due to the infringing activity.

Marlyn Nutraceuticals , Inc. v. Mucos Pharma GMBH, No 08-15101 (9th Cir. July 2, 2009), concerned competing sales of an enzyme-based dietary supplement. The district court ordered a recall based only on an assessment of the four traditional preliminary injunction factors: (1) likelihood of success; (2) irreparable harm; (3) balance of harms favoring the movant; and (4) the public interest. But the 9th Circuit held that a preliminary injunction ordering a recall goes beyond preservation of the status quo. Instead, a recall constitutes a “mandatory” injunction, which requires an additional showing. In the context of a trademark infringement case, the 9th Circuit, agreeing with a prior 3d Circuit decision, held that district courts must consider the three additional factors set forth above. In particular, the 9th Circuit noted that if “the district court makes a finding that the infringing product causes a substantial risk of danger to the public, it should order a recall.”

Interestingly, the 9th Circuit also noted that irreparable harm may be presumed from a showing of likelihood of success, a position that other courts have suggested is at odds with the Supreme Court patent injunction decision in eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388 (2006).

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