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Laches is a law that states that people who choose not to exercise their rights, and many years later make claims of infringement cannot expect the law to back them up.
This might seem a little confusing. So it’s best to use an example to elaborate.
If let’s say someone is doing a small business using his legal name for the business, Frank. Another company them commences business also using the name Frank for the business.
If the original Frank owner does not take action to resolve the issue when he first learned about the existence of the other Frank, claiming brand infringement many years later after seeing the success of the second Frank will be very difficult as he had knowingly allowed it by not taking action in the first place.
Let’s take another example using real estate.
Homeowner A had always allowed homeowner B to access his well for years but choose to remain silent. Over the years B started to use the well water to make lemonade for his lemonade distribution business.
Should A make a claim of infringement and that all the bottles lemonade rightfully belong to him, the court would most like rule that the claims are barred by laches.
The moral of the story is that should you find someone intruding on your property, take action to address it or your right to do so will dwindle as the days go by.
Laches should not be confused as prescription. They can appear very similar with a very small, yet critical difference.
But as well know, in terms of the law, a small difference in definition can make a huge difference in consequences.