The USPTO gets a new home turf.

One of the shortest provisions in the new America Invents Act is found in Section 9 where various actions that are authorized to be taken by or against the USPTO are presumptively to be brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia—not in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

These civil actions include: petitions by persons refused recognition, suspended or excluded from practice before the USPTO (35 U.S.C. § 32); actions either to obtain a patent or to commence a civil action for an interference (35 U.S.C. § § 145, 146); and to seek review of the USPTO director’s patent term adjustment determinations (35 U.S.C. § 154(b)(4)).  The Eastern District of Virginia is also the new home assigned to non-U.S. resident patentees who have not otherwise established or designated a proper address for purposes of service of process in actions respecting their patent rights (35 U.S.C. § 293).

From a single State Department building in the District during the 1790s (when both President Washington and Secretary of State Jefferson personally signed off on newly-issued patents), the District of Columbia venue made some historical sense.  Now, with the sprawling USPTO offices in suburban Virginia, this AIA amendment finally recognizes the USPTO’s true “home court” just down the cobble-stone block from the USPTO in Arlington.