Supreme Court agrees to hear case that may put limits on where Patent cases can be filed

Recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case which may place restrictions on where patent litigation lawsuits may be filed.[1] The Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari filed by TC Heartland LLC (“Petitioner”).[2] The petition resulted from a lawsuit in which the Petitioner was sued for patent infringement by a subsidiary of food company Kraft (“Respondent”).[3] The lawsuit was filed by Respondent in Delaware federal court.[4] The Petitioner argued that the lawsuit should have been brought in Indiana, but this argument was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on appeal.[5]

The petition asks the Supreme Court to determine the proper interpretation of the patent venue statue, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b).[6] The Petitioner asserts that “[t]he answer to this question is a matter of concern to every domestic corporate manufacturer, distributor, retailer, service provider, or end user that is potentially subject to suit for alleged patent infringement.”[7] Specifically, the Petitioner argues that the current rules allow for a Plaintiff patent owner to engage in “forum shopping” and choose the most favorable jurisdiction to file a lawsuit.[8] The Petitioner notes that in 2015 more than 43% of patent infringement cases were brought in one district court, namely the Eastern District of Texas, which is commonly perceived to be a favorable forum for patent owners.[9] The solution to this problem proposed by the Petitioner is for the Supreme Court to set forth an interpretation of the patent venue statue which focuses more on allowing jurisdiction in the venue in which a defendant corporation was incorporated.[10]

The Respondent made several arguments in opposition to the petition, namely that the issue should be resolved by Congress and that the instant case is not a good case to resolve this issue because the Respondent is not a patent troll and does develop and practice the patented technology.[11] Further, the Respondent highlighted the fact that it did not file the lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas.[12]

A ruling by the Supreme Court could have a significant impact on where patent infringement lawsuits can be filed. A ruling may also determine whether there will still be an outcry for Congress to impose patent reform legislation. Our firm will be monitoring the status of this case and its potential impact. Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.

Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.

[1] See, TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC, No. 16-341, 2016 WL 4944616 (Dec. 14, 2016);
[2] Id.
[3] See, In re TC Heartland LLC, 821 F.3d 1338, 1340-1341 (Fed. Cir. 2016).
[4] Id. at 1341.
[5] Id. at 1345.
[6] See,
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] Id.
[11] See,
[12] Id.

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