Monday, January 24, 2022

Paris Court of Appeal Affirms Denial of Preliminary Injunction

I thought I might blog about the Federal Circuit's nonprecedential opinion this morning in Masimo Corp. v. True Wearables, Inc., which affirms the entry of a preliminary injunction; but it is almost entirely about trade secret, not patent law, so I will hold off for now at least while I give some thought to the court's application of substantive trade secret law.  Also of some interest to readers of this blog might be the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this morning to hear a case, Axon Enterprise, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, presenting the question "[w]hether Congress impliedly stripped federal district courts of jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to the Federal Trade Commission’s structure, procedures, and existence by granting the courts of appeals jurisdiction to ‘affirm, enforce, modify, or set aside’ the commission’s cease-and-desist orders." 

As it is, however, I will blog today instead about a matter I came across over the weekend as I try to work my way through a backlog of European I.P. journals:  specifically, a write-up by Emmanuel Py, titled Les conditions de mise en œuvre des mesures provisoires de l’article L.615-3 du CPI (“The conditions for implementing provisional measures under article L.615-3 of the Intellectual Property Code”) in the September 2021 issue of Propriété Industrielle, pp.20-21.  The article discusses a June 15, 2021 decision of the Cour d’appel de Paris, No. 21/12617, affirming the denial of requested preliminary measures in an action brought by Allergan and Allergan France against Mylan concerning EP 1 757 434 for an enhanced bimatoprost ophthalmic solution.  According to the article, Allergan is the owner of the patent and authorized Allergan France to distribute in France a product incorporating the patented invention, under the brand name “Lumigan.”  The defendant Mylan launched a competing product, prompting Allergan and Allergan France to file suit for infringement and also to move for the entry of a preliminary injunction requesting, inter alia, the withdrawal of the Mylan product from commercial channels.  The court of first instance denied the request, and the plaintiffs appealed.

In pertinent part, L 615-3 reads as follows:

Toute personne ayant qualité pour agir en contrefaçon peut saisir en référé la juridiction civile compétente afin de voir ordonner, au besoin sous astreinte, à l'encontre du prétendu contrefacteur ou des intermédiaires dont il utilise les services, toute mesure destinée à prévenir une atteinte imminente aux droits conférés par le titre ou à empêcher la poursuite d'actes argués de contrefaçon. La juridiction civile compétente peut également ordonner toutes mesures urgentes sur requête lorsque les circonstances exigent que ces mesures ne soient pas prises contradictoirement, notamment lorsque tout retard serait de nature à causer un préjudice irréparable au demandeur. Saisie en référé ou sur requête, la juridiction ne peut ordonner les mesures demandées que si les éléments de preuve, raisonnablement accessibles au demandeur, rendent vraisemblable qu'il est porté atteinte à ses droits ou qu'une telle atteinte est imminente. . . .

My unofficial translation would be something like this:


Any person with a right to assert a claim for infringement may commence an emergency civil proceeding to obtain, if necessary under compulsion, against an alleged infringer or the intermediaries whose services it uses, any measure intended to prevent an imminent harm to the rights conferred by this act or to cease alleged acts of infringement.  The competent civil court may also order any such urgent measures ex parte when the circumstances demand that they be taken without opposition, especially when any delay may be of a type to cause irreparable harm to the movant.  In either case, the court should order the requested measures only if the elements of proof, reasonably accessible to the movant, make it probable that it is suffering an injury to its rights or that such an injury is imminent. . . .

Anyway, one of the questions presented—though it does not appear to be dispositive of the outcome here—was whether the court of first instance would be competent to order the recall of products already in the hands of third parties, such as pharmacies.  Reading article L.615-3 in the light of article 9b of the Enforcement Directive, the Court of Appeal (if I am understanding correctly) concludes that the lower court is competent to consider the proportionality of the measures requested in view of the alleged injury.  A second, procedural, question was whether Allergan France was a proper party, since it was not a formal licensee.  The court concluded that Allergan France was a proper party, given that Allergan clearly authorized Allergan France to distribute the patented product in France, even if the authorization was merely verbal.  Third, the court concluded that it was correct for the lower court to deny the requested relief in view of the fact that the validity of the patent was seriously contested (for lack of inventive step), which excludes the characterization of a probable infringement of rights and would, in addition, render the sought-after measures disproportionate.

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