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United States Supreme Court Limits Venue in Patent Infringement Cases

May. 23, 2017|By Gregory B. Collins


On May 22, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in TC Heartland, LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, LLC.   In a unanimous 8-0 decision (Justice Gorsuch abstained), the United States Supreme Court held that venue for patent infringement actions is governed only by 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b).  This statute provides that “any civil action for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.”  

In so holding, the Court overturned almost 20 years of jurisprudence.  In VE Holding Corp., v. Johnson Gas Appliance Co., 917 F.2d 1574 (Fed. Cir. 1990), the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held that “resides” as used in 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) has the same meaning as “residence” as used in the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c).  This meant that patent infringement suits were appropriate anywhere where the defendant was subject to personal jurisdiction.  Consequently, defendants could be sued for patent infringement in states where they sold or marketed an allegedly infringing product.  As a result, sophisticated patent holders sought out favorable jurisdictions.  In 2015, 2,540 patent infringement suits (43% of all patent infringement suits filed in the United States) were filed in The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

With the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland, patent infringement suit will now often take place in the defendant’s home-state.  Venue for patent infringement suits is only appropriate: 1) in the defendant’s state of incorporation or 2) where the defendant committed an act of infringement and the defendant has a regular and established place of business.  

KERCSMAR & FELTUS’ PATENT LITIGATION PRACTICE

Kercsmar & Feltus’ aggressive, focused approach to intellectual property litigation has proven successful many times over, and has been lauded by independent rating organizations, by other lawyers and most importantly, by our clients.  The Phoenix Business Journal has consistently recognized the firm as one of the 10 largest intellectual property practices in Arizona.  Gregory Collins, who heads K&F’s intellectual property practice, is rated as a “Southwest Super Lawyer” in Intellectual Property Litigation—a ranking bestowed on only 10 Arizona attorneys.  K&F Member Sean O’Hara has also been recognized for his work in intellectual property litigation, having been selected as a “Rising Star” in this category for three years running.  And Geoffrey Kercsmar, the firm’s founder, is listed in the 23rd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Intellectual Property Litigation.  

If you would like to speak with the attorneys at Kercsmar & Feltus, please call 480-421-1001. 

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