A patent infringer cannot avoid liability for damages during the 6-year statutory limitations period by raising an equitable defense of laches. Following Petrella v. Metro-Goldwin-Mayer, Inc. (2014) 134 S.Ct. 1962 (which restricted the laches defense in a copyright suit), this decision holds that laches may not be raised as a defense to a suit for patent infringement at least insofar as the suit seeks damages during the 6 year limitations period preceding suit. 35 U.S.C. § 286 represents Congress’ determination that a patentee may recover damages on infringements occurring within 6 years of the filing of suit. To apply laches to defeat recovery within that period would be to assign the judiciary an improper legislation-overriding role.
United States Supreme Court (Alito, J.; Breyer, J., dissenting); March 21, 2017; 2017 WL 1050978