In SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, No. 15-927 (U.S. Mar. 21, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court held that laches cannot be asserted as a defense against a damages claim that falls within the Patent Act’s six-year limitations period.  In this case, the district court held that, although plaintiff’s patent infringement claim was within the Act’s six-year limitations period, 35 U.S.C. § 286, it was nonetheless barred by the doctrine of laches.  The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that because § 286 of the Patent Act begins with the phrase “[e]xcept as otherwise provided by law,” it codified laches as a defense to all patent infringement claims, including claims for damages suffered within the six-year limitations period.  But the Supreme Court vacated, holding that even assuming the preamble to § 286 incorporated a laches defense of some dimension, it does not follow that this defense may be invoked to bar a claim for damages incurred within the limitations period set out in § 286.  To hold otherwise would mean that Congress chose to include in the Patent Act both a statute of limitations and a laches provision applicable to a damages claim – something that “would be exceedingly unusual, if not unprecedented.”  The Court concluded that the reasoning from its prior decision in Patrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1962 (2014) – holding that laches was unavailable as a defense to claims falling within the Copyright Act’s three-year limitations period – was equally applicable here:  laches is a gap-filling doctrine, and where there is a statute of limitations, there is no gap to fill.  Thus, the general rule remains that laches cannot be invoked to bar a claim for damages incurred within a limitations period specified by Congress.