United States District Court, C.D. California
Meras Engineering, Inc.
Present: The Honorable John A. Kronstadt, United States
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(IN CHAMBERS) PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PERMANENT INJUNCTION
Inc. (“Plaintiff” or
“CH2O”) commenced this patent
infringement action in 2013. It contends that Houweling's
Nurseries Oxnard, Inc., HNL Holdings Ltd., Houweling Utah
Operations, Inc., and Houweling's Nurseries Ltd.
(collectively, “Houweling's”) and Meras
(collectively with Houweling's, “Defendants”)
infringed claims 1, 2, and 7 of U.S. Patent No. 6, 767, 470
(“the '470 Patent”). See First Am.
Compl., Dkt. 107; Def.'s Motion, Dkt. 166-1, at 1.
Following a jury trial, on September 6, 2016, a verdict was
entered in favor of CH2O and against Meras and
Houweling's on all claims. The verdict awarded $12.5
million in damages for infringement. Dkt. 426. Subsequently,
Plaintiff brought this motion for the issuance of a permanent
injunction (“Motion”). Dkt. 481. It seeks to
enjoin Meras and Houweling's from further infringement of
the '470 Patent.
hearing on the Motion was conducted on March 6, 2017, and the
matter was taken under submission. Dkt. 514. For the reasons
stated in this Order, the Motion is GRANTED IN PART.
injunction barring ongoing patent infringement may be entered
where the traditional equitable factors have been satisfied.
Where a party has prevailed at trial on a claim of
infringement, a permanent injunction may be imposed where
that party can demonstrate: “(1) that it has suffered
an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law,
such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for
that injury; (3) that, considering the balance of hardships
between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is
warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be
disserved by a permanent injunction.” eBay Inc. v.
MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006).
submitted evidence that it competes with Meras in the market
for services to growers and others, and that Defendants'
infringing actions caused substantial harm to CH2O. Plaintiff
identifies the following bases for its claim of irreparable
harm: (1) it had spent significant resources developing the
'470 technology, establishing a commercial market for the
licensing of that technology, and training its employees to
install and service equipment associated with that
technology; (2) Defendants' infringement caused
substantial damage to the business of CH2O, whose upward
growth curve in this market segment “nosedived”;
and (3) the infringement caused significant erosion of prices
for the technology embodied in the '470 Patent, thereby
reducing substantially Plaintiff's profits from sales. If
this conduct continues, it could have a substantially adverse
effect on the market that could be permanent. Dkt. 481-1 at
respond that the scope of any infringement was trivial and
that any competitive harm to Plaintiff was a result of
Defendants' lawful production of chlorine dioxide in
Houweling's reaction chamber. Dkt. 492 at 10-11. Meras
also argues that CH2O has not proven that Meras's
infringement caused CH2O to lose the trust of hydroponic
farmers or that monetary damages are inadequate to compensate
CH2O for all claimed injuries. Dkt. 492 at 11.
do not dispute that Meras and CH2O are direct competitors.
Nor do they challenge Plaintiff's claim that
Defendants' infringement caused a sharp drop in sales by
CH2O and in the associated revenues. “Past harm to a
patentee's market share, revenues, and brand recognition
is relevant for determining whether the patentee has suffered
an irreparable injury.” i4i Ltd. Partnership v.
Microsoft Corp., 598 F.3d 831, 861 (Fed. Cir. 2010)
(quotation marks omitted).
this evidence in light of the jury verdict, Plaintiff has
made a sufficient showing of a nexus between the patented
features and the demand for the infringing products and
related services. The benefits of the patented technology,
which include less water usage through recirculation and
lower bacterial counts, were sufficient to cause
Houweling's and other hydroponic farmers to utilize
Meras's services. Dkt. 507 at 2-3. Thus, Houweling's