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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/134

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will cause will be out of all proportion to the damage to the plaintiff which it will prevent.

A distinction must be taken, however, between things erected or constructed on one’s own land which are in themselves a nuisance to one’s neighbor, and those which are so only because of the uses to which they are put; for, in cases belonging to the latter class, there may be no occasion for equity to interfere until injury is actually caused, nor is it ever too late to prevent a nuisance for the future without causing anything to be undone.

So, too, when a nuisance is caused by the carrying on of an offensive trade, equity finds no especial difficulty in interfering, unless expensive works have been constructed for the express purpose of carrying on that trade, and which the abandonment or removal of the trade will render wholly or nearly worthless.

The most difficult of all nuisances for a court of equity to deal with are those caused by the erection of massive and costly buildings in large cities. In such cases, if there is danger of a wrong being done, and yet the court does not see its way to granting an injunction, a convenient course is for the court to require the building to be constructed under its own supervision, by directing the defendant to lay his plans before the court, and obtain its approval of them before proceeding.[1]

The interference of equity to prevent the infringement of patents and copyrights is attended with none of the peculiar difficulties which so often occur in cases of ordinary nuisance; and, though a single infringement does not of itself produce any permanent injury, yet the example of successful infringement is contagious and pernicious; and, as it is extremely difficult to prove the extent of the infringement, and so the remedy at law is very inadequate, equity interferes by way of prevention as a matter of course.

Such are the cases in which equity will interfere for the prevention of a tort on account of the nature of the tort, or of the injury caused by it; but there are other cases in which it interferes for a wholly different reason, namely, to prevent the necessity of bringing a great or indefinite number of actions. Thus, if A commit a tort against B, which is capable of indefinite repetition, and B bring an action and recover damages, and A persist notwithstanding in committing the tort, a court of equity will entertain a

  1. Stokes v. City Offices Co., 2 H. & M. 650.