For the past twenty-six years, patent owners were free to sue companies for patent infringement in any federal court where that company was subject to personal jurisdiction. This requirement placed few restrictions on patent owners’ ability to pick their preferred forum, leading to a disproportionate number of patent-infringement filings in perceived patent-owner-friendly courts—most prominently the Eastern District of Texas. But that practice soon may come to an end. On December 14, 2016, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in TC Heartland v. Kraft, to decide whether the patent-venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), is the “sole and exclusive provision governing venue in patent infringement actions.” If so, patent owners would only be able to sue companies for patent infringement in the state where that company is incorporated.
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