Restricting Venue in Patent Suits: 24 Amici Support Mandamus Petition in Federal Circuit

Published November 6, 2015

Some 40% of patent suits this year have been filed in a single district where most of the defendants are neither incorporated nor have a place of business. Today, November 6, 2015, a diverse group of 24 Amici Curiae submitted a brief to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit supporting TC Heartland’s petition for mandamus (Case No. 16-105) urging that a domestic corporation’s “residence” for patent-suit venue purposes, under 28 USC 1400(b), is limited to its state of incorporation. The diverse group of Amici include Adobe, ASUS, Dropbox, eBay, Google, HP, HTC, Intuit, L Brands, LinkedIn, Macy’s, QVC, SAP, SAS Institute, and Xilinx.

More than 100 years ago, Congress restricted where parties could be sued for alleged patent infringement. Since then, the Supreme Court repeatedly has rejected attempts to relax this restrictive patent venue provision. In particular, the Supreme Court consistently has read the statute to restrict a domestic corporation’s residence to its state of incorporation, in patent cases. That interpretation furthers core public policies of our patent system that easy forum shopping defeats.

In 1990, a Federal Circuit panel deviated from this century-old rule based on its reading of the then-existing general venue statute. That decision is one reason for today’s heavy concentration of patent suits in a single district. The mandamus petition supported by Amici contends that this 1990 decision has been superseded by a recent amendment to the general venue statute.

The brief was authored by Klarquist Sparkman LLP, Portland OR. (Robert T. Cruzen, Klaus H. Hamm, John D. Vandenberg).

Linked here is the Amicus brief.