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Megan M. La Belle, associate professor, law, coauthored an article at Patently-O on the federal circuit and patent law. See below.

In Defense of the Federal Circuit: TC Heartland and Patent Venue

From: Patentlyo 
Date: Feb. 16, 2017
Author: Dennis Crouch, coauthored by Megan M. La Belle and Paul R. Gugliuzza


Patent litigation is, as we all know, highly concentrated in a small number of districts. Most notably—some might say, notoriously—the rural Eastern District of Texas hears about forty percent of all patent cases nationwide. Many lawyers and scholars consider this case concentration to be a critical flaw in the patent system.

Against this background, TC Heartland doesn’t seem like a case the Supreme Court would hear simply to affirm. As Dennis reported last week, nearly twenty amicus briefs have been filed urging reversal, including one signed by sixty-one law professors and economists. Predictions of a unanimous ruling against the Federal Circuit are not hard to find. Indeed, TC Heartland looks like other recent cases in which the Supreme Court has reversed the Federal Circuit without breaking a sweat: It involves a procedural-type rule so favorable to patent owners that, one could easily assume, it must conflict with the rules in other areas of federal litigation.

The Federal Circuit, in the caselaw on review in TC Heartland, has interpreted the patent venue statute to allow patentees to sue corporations for patent infringement in any district where personal jurisdiction exists. For companies that sell products nationwide, venue is proper almost anywhere, and that enables litigation to cluster in places like East Texas. Surely, the conventional wisdom seems to be, the Supreme Court will not permit the Federal Circuit to make the venue statute a dead letter in most patent cases. ...


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