A showing of a prima facie case of copyright infringement or reasonable likelihood of success on the merits raises a presumption of irreparable harm. A copyright plaintiff who makes out a prima facie case of infringement is entitled to a preliminary injunction without a detailed showing of irreparable harm.
A computer corporation filed an action against another corporation alleging copyright infringement of computer programs, patent infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation. The defendant corporation alleged that the programs contained no copyrightable subject matter. The district court denied plaintiff's motion to preliminarily enjoin the defendant corporation from infringing the copyrights. Plaintiff appealed.
Did the district court err in denying plaintiff’s motion to preliminarily enjoin the defendant corporation from infringing the copyrights?
The Court on review held that copyright could exist in computer programs expressed in object code or embedded on a ROM (electronic read-only memory device). The Court found that copyright could exist in computer operating systems and that the district court based its denial of the injunction in large part on an erroneous view of the law. The court held that the jeopardy to plaintiff's investment and competitive position caused by defendant's copying satisfied the requirement of irreparable harm needed to support a preliminary injunction.