By Jason Rantanen
This morning, the Federal Circuit issued an Order granting en banc review in SCA Hygiene Prods. Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Prods., LLC. (Dennis’s commentary on SCA here: https://patentlyo.com/patent/2014/09/federal-supreme-holding.html.) The central issue involves the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (holding that laches does not apply to copyright infringement occurring within the window provided by the statute of limitations) on patent law.
The issues presented:
(a) In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 134 S. Ct. 1962 (2014) (and considering any relevant differences between copyright and patent law), should this court’s en banc decision in A.C. Aukerman Co. v. R.L. Chaides Constr. Co., 960 F.2d 1020 (Fed. Cir. 1992), be overruled so that the defense of laches is not applicable to bar a claim for damages based on patent infringement occurring within the six-year damages limitations period established by 35 U.S.C. § 286?
(b) In light of the fact that there is no statute of limitations for claims of patent infringement and in view of Supreme Court precedent, should the defense of laches be available under some circumstances to bar an entire infringement suit for either damages or injunctive relief? See, e.g., Lane & Bodley Co. v. Locke, 150 U.S. 193 (1893).
The order is not yet available on the Federal Circuit’s website, but can be read here: Download SCA en banc order. Thanks to Hal Wegner for bringing it to my attention.