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Articles Tagged with Injunctions

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1414944_posted_sign.jpgThe last time we spoke about injunctions, we described what they are and how to obtain them. These effective, if hard to get, remedies play a pivotal role in New York litigation, in all sorts of disputes, ranging from those involving businesses large and small, to neighbors fighting over a boundary line. Illustrating how they have been used is a good way to know how they can be used to effectively protect your business’ rights and interests in New York.

One of the biggest recent commercial disputes in which a preliminary injunction played a key role was the patent dispute between Apple and Samsung Electronics, in which Apple claimed that Samsung smartphones and tablet computers impinged on Apple’s patents for its versions of those products. Apple twice asked the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to issue a preliminary injunction forbidding the sale and distribution of Samsung’s Tab 10.1 tablet. The first time, the court refused because it held that Apple was not likely to succeed on the merits at trial. The second time, after the appellate court ruled that Apple was likely to succeed on the merits, at least as to the enforceability of its relevant patent, the trial court issued the preliminary injunction. That was a large victory in an even larger case. Apple and Samsung are two of the largest competitors in the tablet computer market and one was ordered not to sell its product anywhere in the United States, even before the merits of the dispute could be fully decide at trial. According to news reports, Samsung sells approximately 300,000 tablets in the United States every three months. That is a large amount of product that a major corporation no longer could sell and a large share of the tablet computer market that no longer was available for the purchasing public to buy.
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1360030_black_book_in_row_isolated.jpgPerhaps one of the most misunderstood tools found in New York law is the injunction. Injunctions affect businesses big and small because they often are used in commercial litigation. Injunctions frequently make the news, especially when one is granted in a high profile case. Many times there will be news coverage of two parties just outside a courtroom, one triumphantly telling all who will listen that the end of the world has been averted; the other, down-faced and glum, saying only that he will live to fight another day. More often than not, the second one is right; for the injunction they most often talk about is a preliminary injunction, which is a provisional remedy that only lasts until the underlying case is decided on the merits.

Most recently, New York State tried to withhold school aid from New York City because the City and the local teacher’s union have not agreed on a teacher evaluation plan. Some parents of children who attend New York City public schools sued to stop the aid from being cut. A New York state judge ordered the State not to cut the education aid; he did so by issuing a preliminary injunction. This doesn’t mean that the parents won, the State lost, and the aid won’t ever be cut. It does mean that the aid will not be cut for now, at least until the court renders a final judgement on the parents’ lawsuit.

There actually are three different types of what commonly are known as injunctions. Though they might seem confusing, they really are straightforward:

– A Permanent Injunction.

This is a final judgement of the court after a trial on the merits of the case, which normally restrains or enjoins one of the parties from taking some action. It is an equitable remedy issued after all the relevant facts have been gathered, all the necessary discovery has been had, and a verdict has been rendered. A court does not have the power to issue a permanent injunction in advance of trial. See Oppenheim v. Thanasoulis, 123 App.Div. 494, 108 N.Y.S. 505 (1st Dept.1908).

– A Preliminary Injunction.

This stops a party from doing something, or, less frequently, orders that he take certain actions, even before the court has decided the case on the merits. This interim step, also known an injunction pendente lite, is a provisional remedy, often done to keep things as they are, to maintain the status quo, until the case itself has been decided. See CPLR 6301.

– A Temporary Restraining Order.

This is an instantaneous freeze issued while the court decides whether to order a preliminary injunction. That is, even before the court decides whether to stop someone from doing something, it stops that person from doing it, at least temporarily. See CPLR 6301.

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