Supreme Court rules on ‘residence’ in patent cases
Supreme Court rules on ‘residence’ in patent cases

The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC [SCOTUSblog materials] on what constitutes “residence” in the context of patent cases. The issue before the court was whether 28 USC § 1400(b) is the sole and exclusive provision governing venue in patent infringement actions and is not to be supplemented by 28 USC § 1391(c). The case centered around a previous Supreme Court decision in Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp [text], where the court held that § 1400(b) is not to be supplemented by § 1391(c), and that as applied to corporate entities, the phrase “where the defendant resides” in § 1400(b) “mean[s] the state of incorporation only.” The court held that residence refers only to the state of incorporation, which limits where suit can be filed. The patent venue statute, 28 USC § 1400(b), provides that “[a]ny 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 and established place of business.”

The court heard arguments [transcript] on the case this past March, where petitioner argued [JURIST report] that the patent venue statute, 28 USC §1400(b), has a statutory phrase on which the court previously ruled. In that case, Petitioner argued that the court found that the venue “means the state of incorporation only” and is “not to be supplemented by the provisions of 28 USC §1391(c). Petitioner therefore argued that the current interpretation by the court in Fourco Glass should be maintained as it preserves the original meaning of the statues and supports the court’s canon of statutory construction. Respondent in turn argued that §1391(c) applies for all venue purposes including §1400(b) and the Venue Clarification Act is more recent than Fourco Glass and therefore should not be ignored. Therefore, respondent argued that Congress’ definition of “residence” expands on venue more than just a place of incorporation and should be used for the purposes of patent litigation under §1391(c).