End of Laches Might Increase Declaratory Judgment Actions
Without laches, accused infringers might more frequently invoke declaratory judgment to clear their products and services upfront rather than tolerate a looming threat of suit for years…. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC (Mar. 21, 2017) eliminated the equitable defense of laches in patent cases. While time will reveal the impact of the SCA decision, elimination of laches, an equitable defense against “unreasonable, prejudicial delay in commencing suit,” Id. at 3 (citing Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.(2014), provides greater security to patent owners who assert claims several years after discovering potential infringement. Conversely, the decision removes one shield—albeit a relatively modest shield—from the accused infringer’s armament of potential defenses.