Is Harm Ever Irreparable? (Inaugural Address for the Ronald Coase Professorship of Law and Economics, Tilburg University)
21 Pages Posted: 19 May 2012 Last revised: 2 Jan 2015
Date Written: September 16, 2011
In this lecture, I address the remedies available to an injured party who seeks redress for injury arising from the unauthorized use of his property by another, for example from patent infringement. Broadly speaking, the injured party is entitled to damages or an injunction. One requirement for receiving an injunction is a showing of irreparable harm. However, in the context of commercial business disputes, is harm ever irreparable? Based on economic interpretations of “irreparable harm” and the economic framework for measuring damages, I conclude that a private party’s injury from infringement of a property right will generally not be irreparable. The justification for issuing an injunction may instead lie in the courts’ reluctance to order damages exceeding the infringer’s valuation of the misappropriated property.
Keywords: damages, remedies, injunctions
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