The defense of “inequitable conduct” in patent litigation is rooted in equity and derives, not from any legislative formulation or regulatory construct, but instead from the principles of “unclean hands.” In Precision Instrument Mfg. Co. v. Automotive Maintenance Mach. Co., the United States Supreme Court dismissed a case brought by a patent owner because the patent in suit and certain related contracts were “perjury tainted” and “inequitable conduct impregnated Automotive’s entire cause of action.” The Precision Instrument case and the only two other earlier decisions by the Supreme Court to consider an unclean hands defense, “involved overt fraud, not equivocal acts of omission.”
Kasper, Alan J.
"Managing Inequitable Conduct by Legislation and/or Regulation,"
Akron Intellectual Property Journal: Vol. 5
, Article 5.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronintellectualproperty/vol5/iss1/5