profits deductible expenses incurred in generating those profits. Id., at ___ (slip op., at 12) (quoting 17 U. S. C. 504(b)). 1839). First Quality thinks it critical that 286 runs backward from the time of suit, Brief for Respondents 41, but Petrella described the Copyright Acts statute of limitations in almost identical terms. 6,375,646 (the 646 patent). (First Quality) argues that 286 does not establish any statutory limitations. SCA did not notify First Quality of this. But the Patent Act has no such deduction provision. for its 2016 term, is taking up the question from SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC of whether laches is available as a defense to patent infringement. All rights reserved.var d = new Date(); document.getElementById('crdate').append(d.getFullYear()); Disclaimer: Transmission of information to us via this feature does not establish an attorney-client relationship. See also Texas Dept. I certainly hope so. DANNIE M. PANTOJA, Petitioner, v. SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS CORPORATION, Respondent. SP No. First Quality and its supporting amici also make various policy arguments, but we cannot overrule Congresss judgment based on our own policy views. SCA and First Quality thereafter ceased See, e.g., 15(a), 20(g)(2)(B), 125 Stat. If Congress examined the relevant legal landscape when it adopted 35 U.S.C. 282, it could not have missed our cases endorsing this general rule. 5,415,649 (Watanabe patent)antedated the 646 patent and revealed the same diaper construction. Id., at 53a. SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS AKTIEBOLAG, etal., PETITIONERS v. FIRST QUALITY BABYPRODUCTS, LLC, etal. Turning to the cases that actually refer to damages, we note that many of the cases merely suggest in dicta that laches might limit recovery of damages. 4921. They focus on the explicit codification of the statute of limitations in 286 compared to the tenuous arguments that the Federal Circuit used to shoehorn latches as a defense to legal remedies under 282. First Quality countered in response on November 21that the 646 patent was invalid. SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS (NI) LTD. is a Private limited company (Ltd.) company based in SOUTHFIELDS ROAD DUNSTABLE, United Kingdom, which employs 26 people. (The False Claims Act, for example, gives a plaintiff six years from the date of the violation or three years from the date of discovery to file his suit, 31 U.S.C. original claims and issued several additional claims. Although the relevant statutory provisions in Petrella and this case are worded differently, Petrellas reasoning easily fits the provision at issue here. Rather, it permits a patentee to sue at any time after an infringement takes place. On August 2, 2010, SCA filed a complaint based on the verified 646 patent. As a result, from the late 19th century until the merger of law and equity in 1938, nearly all patent litigationincluding suits for damagestook place in courts of equity that were applying laches in conjunction with a statute of limitations. v. FIRST QUALITY BABY PRODUCTS, LLC, ET AL. Co., 4 F.2d 453 (CA9 1925), and others state only that the plaintiff wanted an accounting of profits, e.g., Westco-Chippewa Pump Co. v. Delaware Elec. See, e.g., Brennan v. Hawley Prods. 682000. In Petrella, we held that laches cannot preclude a claim for damages incurred within the Copyright Acts 3-year limitations period. See, e.g., 8, 42 Stat. See Lemley, Why Do Juries Decide If Patents Are Valid? SCA then sued First Quality for patent infringement in 2010. When Congress enacts a statute of limitations, it speaks directly to the issue of timeliness and provides a rule for determining whether a claim is timely enough to permit relief. STOCKHOLM, March 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- SCA, a leading global hygiene company and the maker of TENAincontinence products, won an important victory before the United States Supreme Court on. Case opinion for US Federal Circuit SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS AKTIEBOLAG SCA v. FIRST QUALITY BABY PRODUCTS LLC LLC. First Quality points to the text and history of the Patent Act in concluding that Congress left sufficient room for laches to operate alongside the six-year limitation period. First Quality argues that courts sometimes used the term accounting imprecisely to refer to both an accounting of profits and a calculation of damages, Brief for Respondents 1920, but even if that is true, this loose usage shows only that a reference to accounting might refer to damages. First Quality had no knowledge or suspicion of SCAs activity and thus invested heavily in the underwear business, expanding product lines and acquiring competitors. Three years later, in March 2007, the PTO issued a certificate confirming the validity of the 646 patent. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion. 316. In August 2010, SCA filed this patent infringement action against First Quality. This case presents the Supreme Court with the opportunity to review whether the defense of laches will remain available to bar a patent infringement claim within the statutory limitations period of six years. & Supply Co., 64 F.2d 185, 186188 (CA3 1933); Window Glass Mach. 99 Va. L. Rev. Jump to: navigation, search. Hence there is no gap to fill. Ante, at 5. The dissents argument implies that, insofar as the lack of a laches defense could produce policy outcomes judges deem undesirable, there is a gap for laches to fill, notwithstanding the presence of a statute of limitations. When Congress enacted the Patent Act in 1952, patent statutes had already contained a 6-year statute of limitations for 55 years (since 1897), during which time courts had continued to apply laches to patent damages cases. SCA appealed and the Federal Circuit in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, 767 F.3d 1339 (Fed. The Company's line of business includes the wholesale distribution of women's, children's, and infants' clothing and accessories. The ABA also contends that laches may encourage litigation over negotiation (thereby discouraging settlements) because patent-holders would be anxious to mount lawsuits out of fear that they may otherwise be barred from bringing a claim. In any event, the most that can possibly be gathered from a pre-1938 equity case is that laches could defeat a damages claim in an equity court, not that the defense could entirely prevent a patentee from recovering damages. The company registration number is 00515575, It's main line of business activity is Non, and the company is listed as Active. We return to a subject that we addressed in Petrella v. But these statements are not about patent damages cases. V. First Quality Baby Prods., holding that laches, . that will lead to greater hardship for patent defendants, and indicated the Court should be more After all, it says, nearly all of these decisions come from courts of equity. In any event, these cases, like the equity cases, offer minimal support for First Qualitys position. Sca Hygiene Products Ab's Foreign Company Registration Number (FCRN) is F02517. Many do not even reveal whether the plaintiff asked for damages. First Quality counters SCAs accrual rule argument by contending that the separate-accrual rule is not offended by employing laches to bar damages claims within 286s limitations period. I recognize the Majoritys suggestion that the doctrine of equitable estoppel might help alleviate some of these problems. Writing for The Recorder, Scott Graham characterizes the Courts decision to grant review as unsurprising, given the opportunity to upend the Federal Circuits rules on the defense of laches. Graham implies that the Court may be ready to bring the Federal Circuit in line with other courts, quoting attorney Andrew Dhuey as quipping [t]he Supreme Court probably didnt take this up to say Great Job, Federal Circuit! 286. Harvard Law SchoolWasserstein Hall, Suite 30501585 Massachusetts AveCambridge, MA 02138, Copyright 2022 Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. But no cigar. Good reply. SCA alleges that Petrella solidifies its argument that although the equitable defense of laches may be available to supplement legal rights at times, and furthermore, limit equitable remedies, it may not be used to truncate statutory provided legal rights, such as the statutory of limitations, without Congressional approval. Cir. . In that opinion, a divided court held 6 to 5 that laches remains a potential defense in a patent suit to legal remedy, notwithstanding the recent supreme court decision ofPetrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 134 S. C. 1962 (2014), which held that laches is not a defense to legal remedy under the Copyright Act. V. First Quality Baby Prods., holding that laches, . No suit was filed and communications between the parties ceased. 6,375,646 B1 (646 patent). Compare Automobile Workers v. Hoosier Cardinal Corp., 383 U.S. 696, 704 (1966) (describing 286 as enacting a uniform period of limitations); 1 Dobbs 2.4(4), at 107, and n.33 (same), with A. Stucki Co. v. Buckeye Steel Castings Co., 963 F.2d 360, 363, n.3 (CA Fed. Nov. 1: Supreme Court Series - SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC . SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC. For one thing, copyright law, unlike patent law, does not contain a century and a half of history during which courts held that laches and a statute of limitations could coexist. (explaining how laches operates in conjunction with the statute of limit-ations to allow an infringer to garne[r] the harvest of even the earliest of the 6 years to which recovery is in any event limited, with just confidence that he will not be disturbed). Cf. ET AL. 1516. To this end, Justice Scalias passing will weigh on SCAs chances to prevail, and a Lexology article notes that a 4-4 split would leave the Federal Circuits decision intact. In Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 572 U.S. --- (2013), the Supreme Court had held that laches cannot preclude a damages claim incurred within the Copyright Acts three-year limitations period. (4) Because, in any event, in those few pre-law/equity-merger cases in which courts of law considered whether laches could bar a patent damages action, they, like their equity counterparts, held that it could. SCAs brief is due on July 15, 2016 and First Qualitys brief is due on September 12. years after the original correspondence between the parties, SCA filed a complaint alleging But in a 6-to-5 decision, the en banc court reaffirmed Aukermans holding that laches can be asserted to defeat a claim for damages incurred within the 6-year period set out in the Patent Act. SCA Hygiene Products ("SCA") manufactured adult diapers and obtained U.S. Patent No. prior to the enactment of the Patent Act in 1952 could support an inference that 282(b)(1) for its 2016 term, is taking up the question from SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC of whether laches is available as a defense to patent infringement. SCA appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district courts laches decision but reversed the equitable estoppel decision. The same reasoning applies in this case. Many of the pre-1938 equity cases do not even reveal whether the plaintiff asked for damages, and of the cases in which damages were sought, many merely suggest in dicta that laches might limit damages. SCA argues that lower courts misinterpretation of 282 wrongfully granted judicial power to curtail 286s six-year statutory limitation period. First Quality asserts that in multiple cases, the Court has applied laches to bar the enforcement of a patent without examining infringing acts individually, thus applying laches as a single defense where acts are of a similar nature. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Baguio City. The Copyright Act did not codify a laches defense, however, and in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled against the use of laches in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag and SCA Personal Care, Inc. argue that the Petrella decision is applicable to a patent infringement case and that laches should not be used to bar a patent-holder from enforcing its property rights through a legal damage claim. No such deduction provision for patent infringement in 2010 Law and Technology, these cases, offer support... Sued First Quality Baby Products, LLC, etal general rule S. 504. If Patents are Valid can not preclude a claim for damages, 767 F.3d (. 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