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U.S. patent law[]

Patent infringement is the

unauthorized making, using, offering to sell, selling or importing into the United States any patented invention.[1]

Although there is no statute of limitations in patent infringement actions, the Patent Act specifies a time limit on monetary relief for patent infringement claims: damages are available only for infringement that occurs within the six years prior to the filing of the complaint or counterclaim for patent infringement.[2] However, the equitable doctrine of laches may be raised as an affirmative defense to a claim for patent infringement if the patent holder’s delay in bringing suit is unreasonable and inexcusable, and the alleged infringer suffers material prejudice attributable to the delay.[3]


  1. 35 U.S.C. §271(a).
  2. Id. §286.
  3. See A.C. Aukerman Co. v. R.L. Chaides Constr. Co., 960 F.2d 1020, 1028, 22 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1321 (Fed. Cir. 1992) (full-text) (“A presumption of laches arises where a patentee delays bringing suit for more than six years after the date the patentee knew or should have known of the alleged infringer’s activity.”).