The US Supreme Court ruled today on how to interpret the patent venue laws, and the controversial business of “patent trolling” may never be the same.
In a unanimous decision, the justices held that the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all patent appeals, has been using the wrong standard to decide where a patent lawsuit can be brought. Today’s Supreme Court ruling in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods enforces a more strict standard for where cases can be filed. It overturns a looser rule that the Federal Circuit has used since 1990.
The ruling may well signal the demise of the Eastern District of Texas as a favorite venue for patent lawsuits, especially those brought by “patent trolls,” which have no business outside of licensing and litigating patents.
The TC Heartland case will affect the entire tech sector, but the parties here are battling over patents on “liquid water enhancers” used in flavored drink mixes. TC Heartland, an Indiana-based food company, got sued by Kraft Foods in Delaware, then sought to move the case back to its home turf. Neither the district court judge nor the Federal Circuit would allow such a transfer.
If you are interested in learning how this ruling could impact your business litigation, please set up a consultation.