Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What is injunctive relief?

The most common remedy in a lawsuit is money damages. Everyone is familiar with this, because money is the basis for trade in our society. Sometimes, a plaintiff will request "preliminary and permanent injunctive relief" along with money damages. Injunctive relief, or an injunction, is a court order preventing a defendant (or other party) from doing something or enforcing rights it would otherwise have under law.

Preliminary injunctive relief is often requested in intellectual property litigation and high-dollar business disputes. In patent litigation, a plaintiff may request a preliminary injunction to prevent a defendant from selling infringing products that competitively damage the plaintiff's business. A plaintiff must show a likelihood of success at trial before obtaining a preliminary injunction. So, in high-stakes cases lasting several years, a preliminary injunction hearing can turn into a mini-trial, due to the possible business consequences of getting or not getting a preliminary injunction.

Injunctions are available even when money damages are not requested. Sometimes, standalone injunctions are the best remedy for preventing enforcement of a bad law or policy, because they can be obtained relatively quickly. You cannot get an injunction without notice to the other party and a hearing, but the whole process of getting an injunction can take a matter of weeks. Getting money damages can take years.

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