‘Raging Bull’ heiress knocks out MGM’s laches defence
By Colin T Kemp, Kevin A Fong, Bobby Ghajar and Stephen E Berge
In Petrella v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, the Supreme Court holds that laches cannot bar claims for damages for copyright infringement brought during the three-year limitations period.
On 19 May 2014, in a case concerning the copyright in the screenplay that led to the critically acclaimed movie Raging Bull, the US Supreme Court held that laches cannot be invoked to preclude adjudication of a claim for damages brought within the three-year statute of limitations. Writing for the six-justice majority, Justice Ginsburg explained that laches is an equitable defence that cannot be applied to bar legal relief (such as claims for damages) in the face of Congress’s clear limitations period.
Petrella v MGM concerns whether the affirmative defence of laches can be applied during the statute of limitations period applicable to a copyright infringement claim. Before focusing on that issue and the court’s analysis, however, a brief overview of the applicable statute of limitations and the affirmative defence of laches may be helpful…
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