The laches defense has been a regular topic in this blog. I discussed laches, as it applied to patent litigation, on Oct. 5, 2010. I also reviewed the status of laches in intellectual property, in general, on Dec. 17, 2015.
My Dec. 17, 2015 blog indicates that a recent Supreme Court copyright case, Petrella v. Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. et al., 572 U.S. ___, 134 S. Ct. 1962 (2014), could have implications in patent law. The Petrella decision eliminated the defense of laches in most copyright cases.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit considered whether the Petrella decision could be applied in patent cases in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, 767 F.3d 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2014), and in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, __ F.3d __ (Fed. Cir. Sept. 18, 2015) (en banc). In both decisions, the court concluded that the defense of laches was a viable defense in patent law, notwithstanding the fact that the relevant statutes did not expressly include the defense in both patent law and copyright law.
On March 21, 2017, the Supreme Court overruled the Federal Circuit and eliminated the defense of laches in patent infringement actions in which the patent owner seeks damages within the six-year statute of limitations. SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, 580 U.S. ___ (Slip. Op. March 21, 2017). The defense does appear to be available in cases in which the patent owner seeks injunctive relief.