Purported inventor who waited eight years to file suit could not overcome presumption of laches

In a decision yesterday, the Federal Circuit upheld a district court's grant of summary judgment due to laches and applicable state statute of limitations in an inventorship case. The plaintiff, having waited more than eight years after finding out about the patents to file suit, claimed that an intervening reexamination should have reset the time for determining laches and that the defendant's "unclean hands" in failing to include the plaintiff as an inventor precluded the application of laches. The court held that "there is no rule that the issuance of a reexamination certificate automatically resets the six-year clock for the presumption of laches" and that a plaintiff relying on "unclean hands" to defeat laches must show that "the defendant's misconduct was responsible for the plaintiff's delay in bringing suit."

More detail of Serdarevic v. Adv. Med. Optics, Inc. after the jump.


Eleventh Circuit: Laches presumed not to apply in copyright case filed during limitations period

In a decision last week, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part a district court decision granting summary judgment in a copyright infringement action.  The central disagreement between the parties was over the scope of copyright protection in a book about sales techniques.  The district court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment, finding fair use and laches precluded recovery.  

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in the district court's decision as to whether instructional courses constituted derivative works.  However, the court vacated and remanded in part the district court's application of the fair use doctrine and laches.  Regarding laches, the court held, as a matter of first impression in the circuit, that laches may be raised as a defense in a copyright infringement action, even when the statute of limitations has not yet run.  However the court stated there is a "strong presumption" against laches when a claim is filed within the limitations period, only applying in "the most extraordinary circumstances."

Regarding fair use, the court criticized the district court's use of a so-called fifth fair use factor, specifically the consent of the copyright owner.  The court stated analyzing consent in the context of fair use was "incorrect, both in terms of logic and precedent," because "the existence of actual consent negates the necessity of conducting a fair use analysis in the first place."  Ultimately, there were sufficient questions of fact for one of the plaintiff's four claims to survive summary judgment, and the court remanded that claim for further consideration.

More on Peter Letterese & Assocs., Inc. v. World Institute of Scientology Enters. after the jump.


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