The appeal to the Supreme Court in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer deals with the equitable defense of plaintiff’s laches before suing for copyright infringement. Laches is unreasonable and prejudicial delay. MGM allegedly violated plaintiff’s copyright repeatedly over a period of many years; the statute of limitations has not run on the most recent violations. Plaintiff argues that laches should never apply to a cause of action with a statute of limitations. Defendant argues that laches should bar all relief if defendant relied on plaintiff’s failure to sue earlier, without having to match defendant’s reliance to the remedies plaintiff seeks.
This scholars’ amicus brief, which supports neither party, argues against all-or-nothing solutions. In particular, the brief says that laches should be available as needed to protect defendant’s reliance, but that defendant should have to show how particular remedies would unfairly override particular reliance interests. Plaintiff also argues that laches should be unavailable because it would be a ground for refusing an injunction that was not mentioned in eBay v. MercExchange. The scholars’ brief takes this occasion to point out several unintended untoward consequences of the four-part test in eBay.
Scholars’ Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Support of Neither Party, Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, No. 12-1315 (U.S. argued Jan 21, 2014).