On May 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued its decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017), holding that as applied to domestic corporations, “residence” in patent venue statute 28 U.S.C. §1400(b) refers only to the state of incorporation. 

The Supreme Court reversed 27 years of Federal Circuit precedent, VE Holding Corp. v. Johnson Gas Appliance Co., 917 F.2d 1574 (Fed. Cir. 1990), that 28 U.S.C. §1391(c) supplies the definition of “residence” in §1400(b), i.e., any judicial district in which a defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction.  Specifically, Congress twice amended 28 U.S.C. §1391(c), which now provides:  “except as otherwise provided by law” and “for all venue purposes” that “a corporation shall be deemed to reside, if a defendant, in any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction.”  The Supreme Court held that the amendments to the general venue statute do not apply to the patent venue statute §1400(b). 

The Supreme Court’s decision narrowing the scope of the patent venue statute will likely result in increased use of MDL (multi-district litigation), increasing the delay and costs of district court litigation.  Because the ITC does not have any venue and personal jurisdiction requirements, this may in turn lead to an increase in ITC Section 337 litigation.