Patent Act—Venue

TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC, No. 16-341

The Supreme Court today agreed to resolve a dispute regarding venue in patent cases. The patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), provides that a patent infringement action “may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides.” In Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222 (1957), the Supreme Court held that a corporate defendant “resides” only where it is incorporated, for purposes of § 1400(b), and that the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391, was inapplicable. The Federal Circuit subsequently found that Fourco had been abrogated by amendments to § 1391 and that patent infringement actions could be brought where permitted by § 1391. Section 1400(b) separately permits venue “where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business,” but a recent study estimated that 86% of patent cases are filed in judicial districts that would be permitted by § 1391 but not by § 1400(b). Accordingly, the Court’s resolution of this dispute could meaningfully limit where a plaintiff is entitled to file an action for patent infringement.