In the face of immediate and irreparable threats to your company, a temporary restraining order can provides a critical safeguard. It preserves your company’s status or stops irreparable harm while longer-term legal strategies unfold. This article demystifies TROs, detailing when and why they are necessary, and outlines the process to obtain one, enabling you to act swiftly and decisively in protecting your company.

Key Takeaways

  • A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a legal measure used to prevent immediate and potentially irreversible harm to a company by requiring a wrongdoer immediately stop causing harm or by maintaining the status quo during litigation.
  • The process of obtaining a TRO involves legal procedures, starting with consulting an experienced business attorney and subsequently filing a lawsuit for the restraining order with the court.
  • Securing a TRO is a preliminary step, which can lead to further legal protections such as preliminary or permanent injunctions.

Understanding Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs)

A cop looking at his phone.

Photo by Zach Lisko on Unsplash

One of the legal instruments available in a business dispute is the temporary restraining order (TRO). So what does a TRO entail, does your business need one, and how do you obtain one?

Definition and Purpose

Imagine a temporary restraining order as an emergency stop sign, requiring a wrongdoer to immediately cease any actions that might inflict damage upon your company. A TRO is a court-ordered directive to preserve the current situation and prevent additional injury while seeking more comprehensive legal solutions. It serves as an interim barrier safeguarding your business from continuous offenses – including rival companies misappropriating your trade secrets or launching defamatory attacks on your reputation.

Establishing a preemptive relationship with a business attorney, who can learn your business, can help you prepare a robust strategy to strike quickly with a TRO if the need ever arises.

When to Use a TRO in Business Disputes

A temporary restraining order (TRO) can be a crucial legal tool for businesses or companies facing various urgent situations that require immediate protection. Here are several scenarios in which a business might need to seek a TRO:

  1. Intellectual Property Protection: In cases of intellectual property infringement, such as trademark or copyright violations, a business may seek a TRO to prevent further unauthorized use of its intellectual property until a formal legal resolution can be reached. This could involve halting the production, distribution, or sale of counterfeit goods or copyrighted material.
  2. Trade Secrets Protection: If an employee or competitor is suspected of unlawfully accessing or disclosing trade secrets, a company may file for a TRO to prevent further dissemination of sensitive information that could harm the business’s competitive advantage or reputation.
  3. Non-Compete Violations: When a former employee violates a non-compete agreement by working for a competitor or starting a competing business, a company may seek a TRO to prevent the ex-employee from continuing such activities during the legal proceedings.
  4. Contract Disputes: In situations where a business relationship sours, and one party threatens to breach a contract or engage in harmful activities, the other party may request a TRO to maintain the status quo until the dispute is resolved through arbitration or litigation.
  5. Employment Issues: Instances of workplace harassment, discrimination, or violence may necessitate immediate action to protect employees and the company’s reputation. A TRO can be sought to prohibit the offending party from contacting or approaching employees or entering company premises.
  6. Real Estate Disputes: In cases involving property disputes, such as boundary encroachments or breaches of lease agreements, a business may seek a TRO to prevent the opposing party from taking actions that could irreparably harm the property or disrupt business operations.

In all these scenarios, obtaining a TRO can provide businesses with crucial temporary relief to safeguard their interests, assets, and stakeholders while legal proceedings unfold. However, it’s essential to note that the criteria for granting a TRO vary depending on jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of each case. Therefore, seeking legal counsel experienced in obtaining emergency injunctive relief is advisable for businesses facing urgent situations requiring such measures.

The Process of Obtaining a Business TRO

The process of a business obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) involves several critical steps, beginning with the engagement of an experienced business attorney and culminating in a court hearing where the necessity and merits of the TRO are evaluated.

Contacting an Experienced Business Attorney

The process typically commences with the business contacting an experienced business attorney who specializes in litigation and injunctions. This attorney will assess the situation, gather pertinent information, and advise the business on the feasibility of obtaining a TRO based on the circumstances.

Initial Consultation and Assessment

During the initial consultation, the attorney will discuss the facts of the case with the business and determine whether there are sufficient grounds to seek a TRO. This assessment includes evaluating the likelihood of success on the merits, the presence of irreparable harm, and the urgency of the situation necessitating immediate relief.

Drafting and Filing the TRO Petition

If the attorney determines that pursuing a TRO is warranted, they will draft a petition outlining the legal basis for the request, the specific relief sought, and supporting evidence such as affidavits, declarations, or documentary proof. The petition is then filed with the appropriate court, along with any required supporting documents. Depending on the circumstances, state law or federal law may apply.

Court Review and Hearing

Upon receiving the TRO petition, the court may conduct a review of the request ex parte (without notifying the opposing party) if circumstances warrant immediate action to prevent irreparable harm. If the court finds sufficient grounds for the TRO, it will issue a temporary order setting a date for a hearing where both parties can present arguments and evidence.

TRO Hearing

At the TRO hearing, both the business seeking the TRO and the opposing party have the opportunity to present their respective positions to the court. The judge will consider various factors, including:

  • Likelihood of success on the merits of the case
  • Existence of irreparable harm if the TRO is not granted
  • Balance of hardships between the parties
  • Public interest or policy considerations

Court Decision and Enforcement

Following the hearing, the court will make a decision on whether to grant or deny the TRO. If granted, the TRO will specify the terms and duration of the temporary relief. The business must ensure compliance with the TRO, and failure to do so may result in legal consequences.

In conclusion, obtaining a TRO involves collaboration between the business and its legal representation to navigate the legal complexities and secure timely relief. The key factors considered by the court in a TRO hearing revolve around the urgency of the situation, the likelihood of success on the merits, and the potential for irreparable harm if immediate action is not taken.

Transitioning from TRO to a Preliminary or Permanent Injunction

When a business seeks to transition from a temporary restraining order (TRO) to a preliminary injunction and ultimately to a permanent injunction during litigation, it involves a structured legal process aimed at securing ongoing protection for the business’s interests. Getting preliminary injunctions may require posting a bond. Here’s an overview of the typical steps involved:

  1. Temporary Restraining Order (TRO):
    • The TRO is typically granted ex parte, meaning one party (the applicant) seeks relief from the court without notifying the other party.
    • It provides immediate, temporary relief, often lasting for a short period (e.g., a few days to a few weeks), to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm while the court evaluates the merits of the case.
    • Temporary restraining orders may include restrictions or requirements imposed on the parties involved, such as refraining from certain actions or maintaining a specific course of conduct.
  2. Temporary Injunction:
    • To convert the TRO into a preliminary or temporary injunction, the party seeking ongoing relief must usually request a hearing where both parties have an opportunity to present evidence and arguments.
    • At the temporary injunction hearing, the court assesses whether the applicant is likely to succeed on the merits of the case, whether irreparable injury will occur without the injunction, and whether the balance of hardships favors granting the injunction.
    • If the court grants the preliminary or temporary injunction, it extends the temporary relief until the conclusion of the trial or further order of the court, providing more enduring protection for the business’s interests.
  3. Permanent Injunctions:
    • To obtain a permanent injunction, the party seeking ongoing relief must prevail at trial or through a settlement agreement.
    • If the court finds in favor of the applicant and determines that a permanent injunction is warranted, it issues a final order that imposes permanent restrictions or obligations on the parties involved.
    • Unlike a preliminary injunction, which remains in effect until the trial’s conclusion, a permanent injunction provides lasting relief, often prohibiting certain actions or requiring specific behaviors indefinitely.

Throughout this process, both parties have opportunities to present evidence, argue their case, and appeal the court’s decisions, ensuring a fair and thorough examination of the issues at hand. Additionally, legal representation is crucial for businesses navigating these complex proceedings to maximize their chances of securing the desired relief.


Your business may need to take legal action and obtain a court order to protect it. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is a vital legal tool for businesses, offering swift protection against irreparable injury, such as intellectual property theft or contract breaches. Hiring an experienced attorney is essential due to the complex legal procedures involved in obtaining and defending against TROs. Skilled legal counsel ensures proper documentation, presentation of evidence, and adherence to court protocols, maximizing the likelihood of success.

Additionally, attorneys adept in litigation strategy can effectively advocate for the business’s interests, take legal action and seek a court order, whether in securing the TRO or navigating subsequent legal proceedings, safeguarding the company’s assets, reputation, and future prospects. If your business needs help with a TRO, contact Davis Business Law today.