Supreme Court Dramatically Restricts Venue in Patent Cases

May 22, 2017

By Adam R. Steinert 

Exclamation MarkThe U.S. Supreme Court’s May 22, 2017, decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group redefined the possible venues for patent infringement lawsuits. Under the Supreme Court’s holding, patent suits may now only be filed:

(a)        In a defendant corporation’s state of incorporation or
(b)        Where the defendant corporation “has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” (emphasis added)

Today’s decision reverses the Federal Circuit’s 1990 decision in VE Holding Corp. v. Johnson Gas Appliance Co., which had effectively allowed patent suits to be filed wherever the defendant was subject to personal jurisdiction. The new TC Heartland rule is expected to reduce the number of patent disputes in venues where relatively few defendants are incorporated or have business operations, such as the Eastern District of Texas. In contrast, filings are expected to increase in Delaware, where many defendants are incorporated, as well as in venues with large technology industries.

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