Supreme Court Decision Narrows Choice of Venue in Patent Cases

The United States Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC (decided May 22, 2017) narrows the choice of venue in patent infringement cases.

The patent venue statute (28 U.S.C. §1400(b)) defines a two-prong test for identifying proper venue for patent infringement cases. Venue is proper in 1) the judicial district where the defendant resides; and 2) the judicial district where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.

Prior to the decision in TC Heartland, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit broadly interpreted “where the defendant resides,” as recited in the first prong of the patent venue statute, as any court having personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Under this interpretation, the proper venue for a patent infringement case was essentially anywhere a defendant conducted business. This broad interpretation greatly facilitated forum shopping.

TC Heartland now limits the “residence” of the defendant to the State of Incorporation of the defendant for purposes of proper venue, thereby significantly curtailing forum shopping.

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