Update on J.D. Salinger and The Catcher in the Rye

In an earlier post entitled “J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye & Intellectual Property Rights”, we discussed a pending case (Salinger v. Colting) in which a U.S. district court granted the estate of J.D. Salinger a preliminary injunction against Swedish author Fredrik Colting, his publishers and distributors concerning the 

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book 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. In a recent decision concerning this case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the district court used the wrong standard for granting the preliminary injunction, vacating the order and remanding the case back to the district court.

The court of appeals said that the correct standard for a preliminary injunction in a copyright infringement case is the four-factor test outlined in the Supreme Court decision eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. The four factors are: (1) the plaintiff suffered an irreparable injury; (2) remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.

This ruling is significant, because it may mark the first time in a reported case that the so-called eBay factors are being applied to a preliminary injunction in a copyright infringement dispute.  The eBay case involved a permanent injunction in a patent dispute.  However, the decision did nothing to immediately change the situation for the defendants. The preliminary injunction (which barred Colting, his publishers and distributors from advertising, publishing or distributing Colting’s book) will stay in place for ten days following the issuance of the mandate. This will give the estate of J.D. Salinger the opportunity to apply for a temporary restraining order pending the rehearing of the motion for a preliminary injunction.


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