Courts in the Eastern District of Texas are often sought out by companies looking to file lawsuits for patent infringement. In fact, nearly half of all patent suits filed in the United States are heard in the Eastern District of Texas. However, an upcoming Supreme Court case could have wide-spread implications for venue selection in patent litigation. On December 14th, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case seeking to place limits on where patent infringement lawsuits may be filed.
TC Heartland, a liquid sweetener producer, petitioned the Supreme Court after making an unsuccessful bid to move a patent case to Southern Indiana, where they are based. The company was sued in Delaware in 2014 by Kraft Foods, who accused TC Heartland of infringing on three of their patents.
The issue in question concerns the interpretation of a 1990 appeals court decision, which held that patent lawsuits may be filed in any district where a defendant achieves sales. However, TC Heartland has put forth that this decision was overruled by a 2011 law, arguing that patents may only be filed in locations where a defendant has an established business (or is incorporated) and has allegedly infringed. The case was picked up by the Supreme Court after a Federal Circuit court rejected TC Heartland’s arguments.
The Supreme Court ruling in this case could represent a landmark decision in venue selection reform, affecting patent infringement cases nationwide. For example, many companies who file suits in East Texas may no longer qualify to do so under the proposed interpretation of the 2011 federal law.
Facing a Patent Troll? We Can Help
If you have become the target of patent infringement litigation, Hendershot, Cannon, Martin & Hisey, P.C. can help you understand your legal options. Our Houston business litigation lawyers have a proven record of success defending honest businesses against patent trolls. If you want to learn how to beat a patent troll and win your case, contact our legal team, led by founding attorney Simon "Trey" Hendershot.
When you are ready to take action, call (713) 909-7323 and tell us about your situation.