The Supreme Court Limits Patent Venue

The United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the much-anticipated TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC case, No. 16–341, on May 22, 2017.

Under the unanimous decision, the term “reside[nce]” in the federal venue statute refers only to the state of incorporation of a U.S. corporate defendant in a patent lawsuit. This holding could eliminate the “forum shopping” that brings many defendants to particular courts.

The TC Heartland case considered the proper venue for patent cases as codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). Section 1400(b) limits venue to judicial districts “where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had maintained that this provision is supplemented by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c), which states that the proper venue for a patent infringement lawsuit includes “any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction.” According to the Federal Circuit, this allowed a defendant to be sued for patent infringement in almost any district where they sold products. Many defendants complained that “forum shopping” was a result of such an interpretation.

With the Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision, there will be a shift in patent infringement lawsuits from the Eastern District of Texas to locales such as Delaware, where many businesses are incorporated. It remains to be seen how this will impact success rates for patent infringement plaintiffs or defendants.

Posted in: IP Litigation



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