Affirmed Preliminary Injunction Leaves Water Balloon Infringer All Wet

Authors: Jonathan J. Fagan
Editor: Kevin D. Rodkey

In Tinnus Enterprises, LLC v. Telebrands Corp., No. 16-1410 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 24, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction, finding no clear error in that decision.

Tinnus sued Telebrands for infringement of Tinnus’s patent directed to a hose attachment that fills multiple water balloons at once. Tinnus moved for a preliminary injunction, which was granted by the district court.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that it was not improper for the district court to rely on Telebrands’ instruction manuals to show infringement when analyzing the likelihood of success on the merits. The court also rejected Telebrands’ invalidity challenge that the claim term “substantially filled” was indefinite. As the court explained, according to the patent, “if the balloons detach after shaking, then they are ‘substantially filled.’” The court “[found] it difficult to believe” that the person of ordinary skill in the art, reading the specification, “would be unable to determine with reasonable certainty when a water balloon is ‘substantially filled.’” The court then determined that there was no error in the district court’s finding of irreparable harm to Tinnus. The court explained that the district court’s use of evidence from before the patent issued was “circumstantial evidence demonstrating the possibility of identical harms once the patent issues,” and also concluded that the district court properly relied on post-issuance evidence that precludes finding clear error.

 

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