United States District Court, C.D. California
HOMELAND HOUSEWARES, LLC, a California LLC; NUTRIBULLET, LLC, a California LLC, Plaintiff,
EURO-PRO OPERATING LLC, a Massachusetts LLC, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO CEASE PUBLICIZING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND ORDER AUTHORIZING "CORRECTIVE NOTICE" [Dkt. No. 35]
DEAN D. PREGERSON, District Judge.
Before the Court is an ex parte application by Defendant for an order requiring Plaintiff to cease "publicizing" this Court's preliminary injunction in this case, dated August 22, 2014. Defendant also seeks to be allowed to issue a "Court-approved notice" correcting alleged erroneous characterizations of the injunction by Plaintiff.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies the application in its entirety.
Plaintiff and Defendant are competitors in the home blender market. On May 22, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court alleging, inter alia, that the packaging of Defendant's NUTRI NINJA PRO blender made a number of false representations about Plaintiff's NUTRIBULLET line of blenders.
Plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction against Defendant to prevent, inter alia, sales of the allegedly falsely-labeled product pending the outcome of this litigation. On August 22, 2014, this Court issued a preliminary injunction with regard to three claims made on the NUTRI NINJA PRO packaging: "(1) that NUTRIBULLET' products do not operate at 900 watts; (2) that NUTRIBULLET' products do not produce 21, 000 RPMs; and (3) that NUTRIBULLET' products do not have "sip & seal" (or drink through) lids." (Order Granting Prelim. Inj., § IV.) Defendant was ordered to remove all three statements from "all NUTRI NINJA PRO products on sale to consumers and from any other Euro-Pro advertisements." Id.
Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff sent letters to a number of retailers who carry Defendant's products. The letters notified retailers of the injunction, stated that "retailers... who have notice of the injunction must also comply, " and declared Plaintiff's intention to "bring contempt proceedings against violators." (Decl. Jennifer McCabe, Exhibit A.) The letters stated that the injunction was based on a "finding" that the statements on the packaging were "literally false." The letters also noted that the litigation is ongoing, and that "[Plaintiff] will likely be entitled to monetary damages for every sale" and that "[i]f Euro Pro is unable to pay the damages, then any company in the sales chain can be held liable for the damages." Id . Finally, the letters made retailers aware of another recent case in which a federal court in Pennsylvania also issued a preliminary injunction against Euro-Pro for false advertising. Id.
Defendant seeks an order from this Court barring Plaintiff from "publicizing" the injunction or the Pennsylvania case "in any manner whatsoever... without limitation, " requiring Plaintiff to "immediately provide Euro-Pro and the Court with copies of every letter and other communication it sent to a non-party, " and "[a]llowing Euro-Pro to issue a Court-approved notice, " correcting what Defendant alleges are "erroneous" representations in Plaintiff's letters. (Ex Parte Appl., § VI.)
II. LEGAL STANDARD.
Defendant does not point the Court to a specific legal theory under which this relief should be granted. However the Court will assume for purposes of this order that the Defendant invokes the Court's broad inherent equitable power to protect its own orders from evasion, abuse and misuse. See, e.g., Porter v. Warner Holding Co., which noted that when a district court's power to enjoin is invoked,
all the inherent equitable powers of the District Court are available for the proper and complete exercise of that jurisdiction.... In addition, the court may go beyond the matters immediately underlying its equitable jurisdiction and decide whatever other issues and give whatever other relief may be necessary under the circumstances.
328 U.S. 395, 398 (1946). This Court notes that typically these powers will be invoked against the party enjoined, in a contempt hearing. But it is not outside the power of the court to bind either party in order to ensure the order is effectively carried out. See Nat'l Law Ctr. on Homelessness & Poverty v. U.S. Veterans Admin. , 98 F.Supp.2d 25, 26 (D.D.C. 2000) (holding that the court "retained jurisdiction to permit any one of the parties to seek such further orders or directions as may be necessary or appropriate for the construction or carrying out of this Decree") (internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis added).
Thus, this Court will be guided by general equitable principles in deciding whether and how to fashion relief necessary to properly enforce and ensure the effectiveness of the preliminary injunction, including, as needed, orders against either party necessary to prevent the abuse of the injunction. These principles include attempting to follow "equity's lodestar that justice be done, '" as well as a consideration of the public interest and, where applicable, Congress's policy intent in ...