Supreme Court Eliminates Laches Defense in Patent Litigation

March 25, 2017

The US Supreme Court has ruled that the equitable doctrine of laches is not available in patent infringement lawsuits. In a March 21 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., the Court held in SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products that the six-year statute of limitations established by 35 U.S.C. Section 286 precludes the application of laches in such cases. By so ruling, the Court framed the issue as one of separation of powers, with inferred congressional intent taking precedence over the traditional role of laches in equity.

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