Is there a statute of limitations for intellectual property infringement?
There are various time limits that come into play. From an IP owner's standpoint time is often of the essence in asserting rights. From a defendant's standpoint, the statutes of limitation are fairly long and often restart with each new infringement.
Patents - 6 year ruleUnder 35 USC 286, there is a so called "6 year look back period", meaning there is no recovery of damages for patent infringement more than 6 years prior suit, except as to damges under 35 USC 154 (reasonable retroactive royalty from date of publication to date of issue) which is barred if no action is filed within 6 years of issuance of the patent.
Trademarks15 USC 1027 provides that nonuse of a trademark for more than 3 years is presumptive of abandonment, and this has a bearing on trademark infringement actions as failure to assert a trademark can be taken by a court to be a form of abandonment or waiver of rights. The reasoning is that such failure leads the consuming public to reasonably conclude the trademark is abandoned due to its lengthy non-assertion. So it behooves a trademark owner to take action within 3 years of knowledge of infringement. It is not needed to assert against all infringers to show intention to assert. It is understood a trademark owner may financially not be able to sue everyone all at once, and any suit shows no intention to abandon. State tort SOLs may apply to state actions, so be wary of those.
CopyrightThere is an express 3 year/5 year from accrual of action SOL in 17 USC 507 for civil/criminal infringement actions.