Wait for It: "Unreasonable Delay" in Bringing Suit is No Longer a Defense in Patent Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-1 ruling in SCA Hygiene that eliminated the common-law defense of laches in patent infringement cases. The Supreme Court reasoned that laches is a “gap-filling doctrine” that does not apply to patent law because a federal statute already prevents patent owners from collecting damages for any infringement occurring six or more years before they filed an infringement suit.

While laches was rarely successful as a patent defense, companies should be mindful of how SCA Hygiene might incentivize patent owners to wait longer before filing lawsuits and the effect this might have on planning for litigation.

Read more in IpQ: Enhancing your IP IQ®.