How wide should an injunction be?

Having granted summary judgment against Paul’s Retail for infringement of a range of fashion brands trade marks and copyright, Kenny J has now made orders for the remedies flowing from the infringements. One point of general interest was the dispute about the scope of the injunctions.

Her Honour accepted that injunctions were a conventional remedy for intellectual property infringement and were appropriate for grant in this case, largely because it appears the respondents did not offer undertakings and continued to engage in infringing conduct after they had claimed to have ceased it.

The applicants sought broad injunctions in terms typically granted in patent cases (where the order is often as broad as “thou shalt not infringe the patent” – expressed in modern plain English of course). The respondents argued such wide injunctions would travel well beyond the pleaded and proved infringements. Kenny J referred to cases identifying the Court’s concerns against overly broad injunctions, especially as they carried with them the risk of contempt.

Kenny J accepted, on the basis of those cases, that an injunction could in appropriate cases be framed in terms of the statutory command and need not necessarily be tied to prescribe specific conduct. Nonetheless, her Honour considered:

23 As noted above, in Universal Music Branson J stated that it may be permissible to incorporate in an injunction the terms of a statutory prohibition. It does not follow from this, however, that it is permissible to include in injunctions prohibitions against forms of infringing conduct that have not been proven, let alone alleged: compare Microsoft Corp v Goodview Electronics at 592. Bearing these considerations in mind, I propose to grant injunctions in terms incorporating the statutory language but substantially designed to guard against the infringing conduct that has been proven.

Thus, the specific terms of the injunctions granted differed according to the nature of the infringing conduct.

For example, instead of granting an injunction to restrain the respondents from infringing copyright [or the applicant’s copyright in a particular work], Kenny J granted an injunction:

Pursuant to section 115(2) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), the first respondent be permanently restrained from:

(a) reproducing or authorising the reproduction of the whole or a substantial part of any of the Ug Manufacturing Copyright Works without the licence or authority of the fifth applicant;

(b) publishing and communicating to the public or authorising the publication and communication to the public of the whole or a substantial part of any of the Ug Manufacturing Copyright Works without the licence or authority of the fifth applicant;

(c) selling, offering for sale, supplying, offering to supply, importing or distributing any articles bearing any Infringing Ug Manufacturing Copyright Works (such Works being a copy of the whole or a substantial part of any of the Ug Manufacturing Copyright Works which has not been made or applied by or with the licence or authority of the fifth applicant);

(d) authorising, directing or procuring any other company or person to engage in any of the conduct sought to be restrained by sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).

Apparently, the injunctions against the proven trade mark infringements were also tailored more narrowly.

QS Holdings Sarl v Paul’s Retail Pty Ltd (No 2) [2011] FCA 1038


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Urgent interlocutory and declaratory relief

Many IP agreements contain a clause referring disputes about the subject matter to mediation and/or arbitration instead of reliance on court action. There is often, however, an exception permitting court action in the case of “urgent interlocutory and declaratory relief”.

So, when one party to the agreement rushes off to Court to enforce some position instead of arbitration, the court case often becomes as much about whether the Court has jurisdiction or the action should be stayed while the parties go off to mediation and/or arbitration. Correspondingly, before you rush off to Court, it is important to know whether the expense will be wasted because you should have gone to mediation/arbitration.

In a case concerning a dispute about the terms of a charter party (and not IP), the Victorian Court of Appeal has ruled that the word “urgent” in such a clause applies to both “interlocutory relief” and “declaratory relief” distributively. That is, a party cannot apply to the courts for a declaration, the declaration must “urgent”.

The Court endorsed the view of Lord Woolf LCJ that “interim declarations” can be granted, and continued:

[24] Even if it were accepted that an interlocutory or interim declaration is not available in Australia, this would not, in our opinion, exclude the possibility of a declaration of rights in the course of interlocutory proceedings where the declaration finally determines an aspect of matters in dispute and does not operate only as a declaration for the interim.9 In our opinion a declaration of this type could sensibly be described as “urgent”.

[25] In the context of an arbitration agreement this is likely to be the type of urgent declaratory relief contemplated, as the authorities indicate difficulty in enforcing awards that do not finally determine a matter in dispute, even though the award may only be a partial award with respect to the totality of matters in dispute.10

Apparently, whether or not the matter is urgent is to be determined objectively and the party seeking relief must have formed a reasonable opinion that the relief (ie., the declaration) was necessary for the protection of its rights.

AED Oil Limited & Anor v Puffin FPSO Limited [2010] VSCA 37

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Procul Harum: paler shade of white afterall

In its last ever IP judgment, the House of Lords restored Matthew Fisher’s claim to a declaration that he owned 40% of the copyright in Whiter Shade of Pale, after the Court of Appeal found his claim barred by delay.

IPKat has an extensive post and explanation.

As summarised by IPKat, their Lordships focused on the fact that Mr Fisher was seeking a declaration and not an injunction. In doing so, they indicated that the remedy of injunction might well not follow as opposed to damages:

If the declarations set aside by the Court of Appeal are reinstated, then, were Mr Fisher subsequently to apply for injunctive relief to prevent unauthorised use of the work, such an application would be dealt with on its merits. If the court was satisfied that it would be oppressive to grant an injunction in the particular circumstances, for instance because of prejudicial delay, it would refuse an injunction to restrain the infringement, and leave Mr Fisher to his remedy in damages …

Their Lordships also pointed out that the Copyright legislation, unlike real property, does not recognise a concept of acquisition of property by adverse possession.

Fisher v Brooker [2009] UKHL 41

In October, their Lordships (?) return as members of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom: Wikipedia here and Lord Bingham  here (pdf).

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