United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE, Senior United States District Judge
and Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction On
January 17, 2017, Plaintiff Epson America, Inc.
(“Epson”) filed a Complaint alleging Defendant
USA111, Inc., d/b/a iRULU (“iRULU”) made false
statements in advertising its consumer projectors,
specifically a model called the BL20. Epson seeks, inter
alia, injunctive relief restraining iRULU from engaging in
false advertising and ordering removal of false
advertisements from iRULU's projector product listings.
Entry No. 1, Compl. ¶ 44. The central allegation is
iRULU's claimed lumen rating is vastly overstated in
advertisements and has resulted in injury to Epson.
Id. at ¶¶ 27-28, 35.
January 19, 2017, Epson filed a motion for preliminary
injunction asking the court to enjoin iRULU from engaging in
further false advertising regarding its products' lumen
rating, order removal of all infringing iRULU products from
Amazon.com (“Amazon”) and other websites until
iRULU can substantiate any new proposed lumen claims through
appropriate testing, and order iRULU to send corrective
notices to retailers and customers disclosing the prior false
claims regarding the projectors' lumen output. ECF No. 9.
For the reasons stated below, the motion for preliminary
injunctive relief is granted as to some but not all of the
undisputed Epson and iRULU both sell portable consumer
projectors online through websites such as
Amazon. Quality and price for such projectors are
largely determined based on the resolution and brightness of
the projector. ECF No. 9-2 ¶ 5. Projector brightness is
measured and described in lumens, and lumen ratings are often
listed in the projector's description or specifications
on sites such as Amazon. Id. at ¶ 6-8. Some
product listings include lumen ratings in the product name
itself. Id. at ¶ 8. Such ratings are an
important piece of information used by consumers when
selecting a projector appropriate for their needs.
Id. at ¶ 7.
online marketplaces, such as Amazon, identify best-selling
products with a “best seller” or similar label.
Id. at ¶ 10. These products are often at the
top of the results when consumers run searches, which can
influence customer selection. Compl. ¶ 36.
sells approximately 30 different models of projector with
advertised lumen ratings between 800 to 2800 lumens. ECF No.
28-2 ¶ 4; ECF No. 1-3. One such projector is the BL20,
advertised on Amazon and other online retailers as having
2600 lumens. Compl. ¶ 21, Answer ¶ 21. The BL20 was
designated as an Amazon “Best Seller” in the Fall
of 2016, although it currently does not hold that
designation. ECF No. 28-2, ¶ 18.
manufactures and sells many electronic devices, including
projectors which fall into the same category as the BL20. ECF
No. 9-2 ¶ 3. In July of 2016, Epson commissioned an
independent technology consulting company to test the
brightness of iRULU's BL20 projector. ECF No. 9-3 ¶
6. The results showed each projector tested had lumen output
of approximately 80 lumens instead of the 2600 advertised.
Id. at ¶¶ 7, 10-14.
filed suit in this court on January 17, 2017, seeking
injunctive relief and damages against iRULU. ECF No. 1. Epson
requested iRULU be enjoined from falsely advertising its
projectors' lumen ratings, and the court order iRULU to
remove all false advertisements of the BL20 and all
misrepresented iRULU products. Id. at ¶ 44. On
January 19, 2017, Epson filed a motion for preliminary
injunction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
ECF No. 9. iRULU filed a response in opposition on March 1,
2017. ECF No. 28. Epson filed its reply on March 8, 2017. ECF
No. 30. The parties declined an evidentiary hearing after
agreeing the issues before the court consist of legal claims
and inferences to be drawn from the facts submitted in their
preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy . .
. which is to be applied only in [the] limited circumstances
which clearly demand it.” Direx Israel, Ltd. v.
Breakthrough Med. Corp., 952 F.2d 802, 811 (4th Cir.
1991) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted).
The traditional purpose of a preliminary injunction is to
“protect the status quo and to prevent irreparable harm
during the pendency of a lawsuit ultimately to preserve the
court's ability to render a meaningful judgment on the
merits.” In re Microsoft Corp. Antitrust
Litig., 333 F.3d 517, 525 (4th Cir. 2003). To qualify
for injunctive relief, a plaintiff must show (1) likelihood
it will succeed on the merits; (2) likelihood it will suffer
irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction;
(3) the balance of equities tips in its favor; and (4) the
injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. NRDC,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); Real Truth About Obama
v. FEC, 575 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2009), vacated on
other grounds, 559 U.S. 1089 (2010).
Winter-Real Truth standard requires the party
seeking the injunction to make a “clear showing”
it is likely to succeed on the merits. Real Truth,
575 F.3d at 345; see also Winter, 555 U.S. at 22.
This standard compels the moving party to show it is likely
to prevail. Regardless of the balance of hardships, it is
insufficient for the party to show only “grave or
serious questions are presented” in the litigation.
Compare Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 346 with
Blackwelder Furniture Co. of Statesville v. Seilig Mfg.
Co., 550 F.2d 189, 196 (4th Cir. 1977).
the moving party must make a clear showing it is likely to be
irreparably harmed if preliminary relief is denied. To meet
this test, the party must show more than a mere possibility
of harm. Winter, 555 U.S. at 21. Third, the moving
party must show the balance of equities tips in its favor.
Id. at 21, 26. Fourth, the court must consider
whether grant or denial of the injunction is in the public
interest. The court must give “particular regard”
to the public consequences of granting a preliminary
injunction. Id. at 24; Real Truth, 575 F.3d
at 347. The Fourth Circuit no longer recognizes a
“flexible interplay” among these criteria.
Instead, each requirement must be fulfilled as articulated.
Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347 (quoting
Blackwelder, 550 F.2d at 196).
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
alleges iRULU violated the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051,
et seq., by falsely advertising the lumen output of its
projectors, specifically the BL20. The Lanham Act creates a
private right of action for corporate victims of “false
or misleading” descriptions or representations. 15
U.S.C. § 1125(a). Section 1125(a)(1)(B) of the Lanham
Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or
services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any
word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination
thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or
misleading description of ...