American Cyanamid Co v Ethicon Ltd: HL 5 Feb 1975

Interim Injunctions in Patents Cases

The plaintiffs brought proceedings for infringement of their patent. The proceedings were defended. The plaintiffs obtained an interim injunction to prevent the defendants infringing their patent, but they now appealed its discharge by the Court of Appeal.
Held: The questions which applied when looking for an interim injunction in patent infringement cases were no different from those in other cases. The court must first look to the balance of convenience. There was no rule that the court must first look for the prospects of success of either party. The court must be satisfied the claim ‘is not frivolous or vexatious; in other words, that there is a serious question to be tried’. Where there was any doubt about damages being adequate compensation for the grant or withholding of an injunction, the court should preserve the status quo. The judge’s assessment of that balance of convenience was not to be disturbed.
Lord Diplock said of the phrase ‘prima facie case’ that it ‘may in some contexts be an elusive concept’ and ‘the governing principle is that the court should first consider whether, if the plaintiff were to succeed at trial in establishing his right to a permanent injunction, he would be adequately compensated by an award of damages for the loss he would have sustained as a result of the defendant’s continuing to do what was sought to be enjoined between the time of the application and the time of the trial. If damages in the measure recoverable would be [an] adequate remedy and the defendant would be in a financial position to pay them, no interim injunction should normally be granted, however strong the plaintiff’s claim appeared to be at that stage.’

Lord Diplock, Viscount Dilhorne, Lord Cross of Chelsea, Lord Salmon and Lord Edmund-Davies
[1975] 2 WLR 316, [1975] AC 396, [1975] UKHL 1, [1975] 1 All ER 504, [1975] FSR 101, [1975] RPC 513
England and Wales
CitedDonmar Productions Ltd v Bart (Note) 1967
. .
CitedHarman Pictures N V v Osborne ChD 1967
The plaintiffs asserted ownership in the copyright in a reproduction in a film of the book ‘The Reason Why’. There had been abortive discussions about the purchase of rights. The defendants intended to proceed with another production. They claimed a . .
CitedHubbard v Vosper CA 1971
Claims of infringement were made as to copyright works being various works about Scientology. Extracts had appeared in the defendant’s book which was critical of the cult. It was submitted by the plaintiff that the fair dealing section applied only . .
CitedJones v Pacaya Rubber and Produce Co Ltd CA 30-Nov-1910
If, while an action is pending against a company for the rescission of a contract to take shares, the company give notice to the plaintiff to forfeit the shares in consequence of non-payment of calls, the Court will, on the plaintiff paying into . .
CitedPreston v Luck CA 1884
The court referred to the need to show ‘a probability that the plaintiff is entitled to relief’
Cotton LJ, though not using the expression ‘prima facie case’ defined the said requirement thus: ‘. . though the Court is not called upon to decide . .
CitedSmith v Grigg Ltd CA 1924
The plaintiff sought an interlocutory injunction to restrain infringement of a registered design.
Held: Where the design was of recent origin, had not been established by a court of law, and where its validity could be doubted, the court would . .
CitedWakefield v Duke of Buccleugh 1865
The practice of taking undertakings from a party at an interlocutory hearing: ‘aided the court in doing that which was its great object, viz. abstaining from expressing any opinion upon the merits of the case until the hearing.’ . .

Cited by:
CitedImutran Ltd v Uncaged Campaigns Ltd and Another ChD 11-Jan-2001
The test for whether an interim injunction should be granted restraining publication of material claimed to be confidential, where such a grant would infringe the right to freedom of expression was slightly different under the 1998 Act. The . .
CitedCream Holdings Limited and others v Banerjee and The Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Limited CA 13-Feb-2003
The defendants considered publication of alleged financial irregularities by the claimant, who sought to restrain publication. The defendants argued that under the Act, prior restraint should not be used unless a later court would be likely to . .
CitedBelize Alliance of Conservation Non-Governmental Organisations v Department of the Environment and Another (No 2) PC 13-Aug-2003
(Belize) The applicants sought an interim order preventing continuation of the building of a dam, saying that the environmental damage had not been properly aanticipated.
Held: The Board of the Council did have power to grant an interim . .
CitedCream Holdings Limited and others v Banerjee and others HL 14-Oct-2004
On her dismissal from the claimant company, Ms Banerjee took confidential papers revealing misconduct to the local newspaper, which published some. The claimant sought an injunction to prevent any further publication. The defendants argued that the . .
CitedHerbage v Pressdram Ltd CA 1984
There was a publication of articles which referred to convictions which were spent under the 1974 Act. The court restated the principle in Bonnard v Perryman: ‘These principles have evolved because of the value the court has placed on freedom of . .
CitedHerbage v Times Newspapers Ltd CA 30-Apr-1981
The principles in American Cyanamid did not affect the rule in Bonnard v Perryman. Sir Denys Buckley saiod: ‘the question what meaning the words complained of bore was primarily one for the jury. Suppose the words bore the second meaning alleged and . .
CitedUniversity of Oxford and others v Broughton and others QBD 10-Nov-2004
The claimants sought injunctions to protect themselves against the activities of animal rights protesters, including an order preventing them coming with a wide area around the village.
Held: The orders made were justified with the additional . .
CitedHall and others v Save Newchurch Guinea Pigs (Campaign) and others QBD 17-Mar-2005
The claimants ran a guinea pig farm. They and their neighbours applied for injunctions and an exclusion zone to keep away the defendants who campaigned against the breeding of animals for research.
Held: The claimants had been subjected to a . .
CitedJewellery Appraisal Services v Belson and others QBD 11-Apr-2005
The defendants had sold a business and included a non-compete covenant. The claimants sought to enforce it against them. It was said that they had approached insurers with a view to commencing business supplying jewelry. The defendants said their . .
ConsideredRegina v Secretary of State for Transport, ex parte Factortame (No 2) HL 11-Oct-1990
The validity of certain United Kingdom legislation was challenged on the basis that it contravened provisions of the EEC Treaty by depriving the applicants of their Community rights to fish in European waters, and an interlocutory injunction was . .
CitedInternational Transport Workers’ Federation and Another v Viking Line Abp and Another CA 3-Nov-2005
An order had been made restraining the defendant trades unions from taking industrial action. The unions said the UK court had no jurisdiction.
Held: ‘It is at first sight surprising that the English Commercial Court should be the forum in . .
CitedNWL Ltd v Woods HL 1979
The phrase ‘trade dispute’ was defined by reference to (i) the parties to it and (ii) the subject matter. Lord Scarman referred to the legislative history of attempts to regulate strike actions by trades unions: ‘It is wrong to attempt to construe . .
CitedAdidas-Salomon Ag v Drape and others ChD 7-Jun-2006
The claimants had sponsored tennis players to wear their logo. The respondents organised tennis tournaments whose intended rules would prevent the display of the claimant’s logos. The claimants said that the restriction interfered with their rights . .
CitedGarden Cottage Foods Ltd v Milk Marketing Board HL 1984
In English law a breach of statutory duty, is actionable as such by a private individual to whom loss or damage is caused by a breach of that duty. Lord Diplock said that it was quite unarguable: ‘that if such a contravention of Article 86 gives . .
CitedSmithkline Beecham Plc Glaxosmithkline UK Ltd and Another v Apotex Europe Ltd and others (No 2) CA 23-May-2006
The parties to the action had given cross undertakings to support the grant of an interim injunction. A third party subsequently applied to be joined, and now sought to take advantage of the cross undertakings to claim the losses incurred through . .
CitedFiona Trust Holding Corp and others v Privalov and others ComC 21-May-2007
Allegations were made of different varieties of fraud. Applications were made for freezing orders. . .
CitedBoehringer Ingelheim Ltd and others v Vetplus Ltd CA 20-Jun-2007
The claimants appealed refusal of an order restricting comparative advertising materials for the defendant’s competing veterinary medicine. The claimant said that the rule against prior restraint applicable to defamation and other tort proceedings . .
CitedJacobs v Official Receiver; In re Jacobs (a bankrupt) ChD 3-Apr-1998
The bankrupt was due to have his automatic discharge, but the Official Receiver applied on the day before for the discharge for an interim suspension of the discharge to allow consideration of his alleged lack of co-operation. The bankrupt said the . .
CitedIntercall Conferencing Services Ltd v Steer QBD 15-Mar-2007
The claimant company sought an interim injunction to prevent the defendant, a former employee, from working for a competitor in breach of a clause in his contract and from divulging any confidential information. The defendant said that the . .
CitedLes Laboratoires Servier and Another v Apotex Inc and others ChD 9-Oct-2008
The claimant had alleged that the defendant was producing generic drugs which infringed its rights in a new drug. The patentee had given a cross-undertaking in damages, but the patent was later ruled invalid. The court had to assess the damages to . .
CitedNew ISG Ltd v Vernon and others ChD 14-Nov-2007
The claimant sought to continue an interim injunction obtained without notice. The claimant sought to restrain former employees misusing information it claimed they had taken with them. The claimants said that having objected to a transfer of their . .
CitedNational Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd v Olint Corp Ltd (Jamaica) PC 28-Apr-2009
Jamaica – The customer appealed against refusal of an order requiring its bank not to close the customer accounts after the customer had been accused of fraud. There was no evidence that the account was being used unlawfully.
Held: In the . .
CitedFaisaltex Ltd and Others v Lancashire Constabulary and Another QBD 24-Jul-2009
The claimants wished to claim damages saying that in executing a search warrant, the defendant had made excessive seizures of material. The claimants sought inspection by independent counsel of the materials seized to establish this in a manner . .
CitedDass Solicitors v Southcott ChD 2-Apr-2009
The claimant solicitors said that the defendant employed solicitor had sought to leave without giving the required three months’ notice and had sought to persuade clients of the firm to go to his new practice. Application was made on a without . .
CitedAssociated Foreign Exchange Ltd v International Foreign Exchange (UK) Ltd and Another ChD 26-May-2010
The claimant sought interim injunctions to enforce a restrictive covenant against solicitation of customers in a former employee’s contract. The employee, a FOREX dealer, had been placed on garden leave for three months and then his contract . .
CitedBritish Broadcasting Corporation v Harpercollins Publishers Ltd and Another ChD 4-Oct-2010
The claimant sought an injunction and damages to prevent the defendant publishing a book identifying himself as ‘the Stig’ saying that this broke his undertaking of confidentialty as to his identity, a necessary part of the character in the TV . .
CitedSmith v Inner London Education Authority CA 1978
Lord Denning MR doubted the applicability of the criteria in American Cynamid to public law proceedings. It is appropriate at the interface of public law and private law for the public interest to be taken into account as one of the factors in the . .
CitedCoventry City Council v PGO and Others CA 22-Jun-2011
The children had been placed with short term fosterers. On adopters being found, the fosterers themselves applied to adopt the children. The court was asked whether a county court judge had power to injunct the authority not to remove the children . .
CitedCaterpillar Logistics Services (UK) Ltd v Huesca De Crean QBD 2-Dec-2011
The claimant sought an order to prevent the defendant, a former employee, from misusing its confidential information said to be held by her. Her contract contained no post employment restrictions but did seek to control confidential and other . .
CitedRevenue and Customs v Rochdale Drinks Distributors Ltd CA 13-Oct-2011
The revenue appealed against refusal of its petition for the winding up of the company for non-payment of a VAT assessment. The company said that the assessment was disputed. The revenue said that the company had been run for the purpose of . .
CitedAB v CD QBD 3-Jan-2014
The parties were contracted to each other in respect of an internet based marketing system for metals and other resources. The claimant had contracted in effect to promote the system. The claimant sought an injunction to prevent termination of . .
CitedNugent v Nugent ChD 20-Dec-2013
The court was asked whether the court has, following the the 2002 Act, an inherent power to order the cancellation of a unilateral notice registered against a title registered under the 2002 Act and, if so, in what circumstances, and how, such a . .
CitedMerlin Entertainments LPC and Others v Cave QBD 25-Sep-2014
The claimants operated amusement parks. The defendant, believing that the parks were not being opearated as safely as they should be set up web-sites attacking the claimants and some employees in intemperate terms. The claimants sought interim . .
CitedNATS (Services) Ltd v Gatwick Airport Ltd and Another TCC 2-Oct-2014
NATS had tendered unsuccessfully for a contract to provide air traffic control services at Gatrwick airport, and challenged the award. GAL denied that the Regulations applied and now sought disapplication of the automatic suspension from the award . .
ModifiedNWL Limited v Woods 1979
Lord Diplock said: ‘Where, however, the grant or refusal of the interlocutory injunction will have the practical effect of putting an end to the action because the harm that will have been already caused to the losing party by its grant or its . .
CitedHeythrop Zoological Gardens Ltd (T/A Amazing Animals) and Another v Captive Animals Protection Society ChD 20-May-2016
The claimant said that the defendant had, through its members visiting their premises, breached the licence under which they entered, by taking photographs and distributing them on the internet, and in so doing also infringing the performance rights . .
CitedLawrence David Limited v Ashton CANI 1989
The American Cyanamid principles apply in cases of interlocutory injunctions in restraint of trade just as they do in other cases. . .
CitedWhitmar Publications Ltd v Gamage and Others ChD 4-Jul-2013
Whitmar claimed damages for breach of contract; an account of profits; damages for breach of fiduciary duty and/or for infringement of its Database Rights under the Copyright and Rights in Database Regulations 1997; and for a permanent injunction . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Intellectual Property

Leading Case

Updated: 11 December 2021; Ref: scu.174732