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Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Bolar Pharmaceutical Co.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT


decided: October 14, 1983.

CIBA-GEIGY CORPORATION, APPELLEE,
v.
BOLAR PHARMACEUTICAL CO., INC., APPELLANT

Hunter and Higginbotham, Circuit Judges, and Giles,*fn* District Judge.

Author: Per Curiam

Opinion OF THE COURT

CIBA-GEIGY Corporation ("Ciba") initiated this action on March 12, 1982, alleging that Bolar Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. ("Bolar") had violated Section 43(a) of the Lanham Trade-Mark Act, 15 U.S.C. ยง 1125(a) (1976) and two independent torts under New Jersey Law, "unprivileged imitation" and "passing off," by copying the trade dress of Ciba's APRESAZIDE products.

Following a lengthy hearing, the district court, 547 F. Supp. 1095, relying primarily on SK & F Co. v. Premo Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Inc., 625 F.2d 1055 (3d Cir. 1980), granted preliminary injunctive relief. The injunctive relief prevented Bolar from "using any simulation, imitation or substantial duplication of [Ciba's] distinctive trade dress . . . in connection with . . . [Bolar's] hydralazine hydrochloride/hydrochlorothiazide products for the treatment of hypertension." IV Appendix (App.) 727. The district court based its grant of injunctive relief on its belief (1) that Ciba "demonstrate[d] a likelihood of ultimate success as to at least one of the [counts -- either the Lanham-Act count or the State unfair-competition counts]; (2) that Ciba "is threatened with irreparable injury absent such relief;" and (3) "that the balance of equities and the public interest favor such relief." IV App. at 709. Appellant Bolar argues that the district court abused its discretion and made various errors in its findings of fact and conclusions of law. But, we find no merit to appellant's arguments seeking to overturn the grant of a preliminary injunction.

The narrow scope of review of a district court's grant of an application for preliminary injunctive relief permits us to dissolve an injunction only if

the trial court abuses [its] discretion, commits an obvious error in applying the law, or makes a serious mistake in considering the proof. . . .

SK & F, Co. v. Premo Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Inc., 625 F.2d at 1066, quoting A.O. Smith Corp. v. FTC, 530 F.2d 515, 525 (3d Cir.1976). See Scooper Dooper, Inc. v. Kraftco Corp., 460 F.2d 1204 (3d Cir.1972). Thus, an appellant who is attempting to overturn a district court order granting (or denying) a preliminary injunction carries a heavy burden. SK & F Co. v. Premo Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Inc., 625 F.2d at 1066; See, Oburn v. Shapp, 521 F.2d 142, 147 (3d Cir.1975); Scooper Dooper, Inc. v. Kraftco Corp., 460 F.2d at 1205. After reviewing the record, the briefs and arguments of the parties, and Judge Sarokin's thoughtful and detailed opinion, we hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion, commit an obvious error in applying the law,*fn1 or make a serious mistake in considering the proof.

Accordingly, we will affirm the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction.


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