Supreme Court Bars Laches Defense, Leaves Statute of Limitations in Patent Suits

One more Federal Circuit decisions bites the dust. Today, in SCA Hygiene Products AB v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC,  the Supreme Court held that the equitable doctrine of laches (undue delay) cannot be invoked as a defense against a claim for damages brought within the 6-year statute of limitations of s. 286. The Court reasoned that the “hard and fast rule” established by Congress was intended to more effectively promote timely suits, than a “case specific judicial determination.” This decision has a copyright equivalent in Petrella v. MGM, Inc. where the Court held that laches could not preclude a claim for damages brought within the 3-year statute of limitations period.

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