PL Homework -- Due Wednesday, March 23

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The "Printed Publication" case I chose related to In re Hall was Schwabel Corp. vs. Conair Corp.

The case was held in Massachusetts' District Court.

In this case, the Plaintiff Schwabel is suing the Defendant Conair for infringement over a butane-powered curling iron. The plaintiff also moved for a preliminary injunction that would end Conair's sale of the curling iron immediately and would theoretically prevent Schwabel from becoming bankrupt. The court reserves preliminary injunctions for drastic cases where an immediate decision is required to end irreparable harm to one side or the other. In this case, they found it appropriate to affirm Schwabel's movement for a preliminary injunction.

In 1996, Schwabel entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Conair under which Conair could distribute Schwabel's curling irons under the Conair name. However, the agreement terminated in 1998 when the two sides found disputes they could not settle. In 2000, Conair began to sell its own curling iron which Schwabel claims is infringement. Conair disputed the infringement and said that Schawbel's patents are anticipated by a prior soldering iron patent and invalid since they did not disclose this prior art to the patent examiner. A 1978 patent was granted to Nigel L. Sim for a soldering iron which Conair contends is similar to Schwabel's patent and makes it invalid by anticipation, as stated in Sec. 102(e). The court found that Conair did not explain how the Sim patent anticipates the Schwabel patent, and did not find infringement to exist.

The ultimate decision of whether to grant the preliminary injunction came down to issues of irreparable harm, hardships, and public interest, but in all categories the court found it appropriate to grant the injunction to protect the Schwabel corporation. When the court goes to trial, the Schwabel corporation is taking on the risk of $1 million in compensation for Conair if they lose after being granted the preliminary injunction.