U.S. Supreme Court Limits Venue in Patent Infringement Cases
By Michael Bonella // May 23, 2017
Historically, patent venue was interpreted based on two statutes. The patent venue statute provides that “any civil action for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular place of business.” 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). “Resides” in § 1400(b) language had been interpreted broadly based on the general venue statute (28 U.S.C. §1391(c)), which provides that “[e]xcept as otherwise provided by law” and “[f]or all venue purposes,” a corporation “shall be deemed to reside, if a defendant, in any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction with respect to the civil action in question.” In TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brand, LLC, the Supreme Court rejected this broad interpretation of the patent venue statute. The Supreme Court held that “residency” for purposes of the patent venue statute applies only to the state of incorporation and does not include residency as defined in the general venue statute.
As a result of TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brand, LLC, venue is not proper in a patent infringement action where the defendant has simply committed an alleged act of infringement (e.g., selling an allegedly infringing product) in a jurisdiction. Rather, venue in a patent infringement action is now limited to the place of incorporation or where the defendant has committed an alleged act of infringement and has a regular place of business.