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Posts Tagged: "TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods"

Federal Circuit Weighs in on Proper Venue in Hatch-Waxman Cases Under TC Heartland

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit addressed a question of first impression regarding whether an act of patent infringement occurs in a Hatch-Waxman case “only when and where an ANDA-filer submits its ANDA to the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] or occurs wherever future distribution of the generic is contemplated.” Valeant Pharmaceuticals v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals. The court ultimately determined the answer to be the former; however, in the case of a foreign defendant, venue is proper in any judicial district. The court ultimately determined the answer to be the former; however, in the case of a foreign defendant, venue is proper in any judicial district. It was the first time the court has had a chance to address the question of where infringement occurs in an ANDA case since TC Heartland v. Kraft Food Group Brands.

CAFC Affirms Sanctions Entered Against Overly Litigious Doctors

On August 13, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Kahn v. Hemisphere Inc, holding that “the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the action, granting the defendants’ sanctions motion, denying the Khans’ sanctions motion, or denying Merit Medical’s motion for attorney fees under § 285.” Drs. Nazir Khan and Iftikhar Khan filed an action against Hemosphere Inc., CryoLife Inc., and Merit Medical Systems, Inc., and over 300 hospitals and individual physicians, for infringing a claim of U.S. Patent No. 8,747,344, which was directed to an arteriovenous shunt, by “manufacturing or implanting into patients the accused HeRO® Graft shunt.” The Khans sent a waiver of service of summons form and a copy of the complaint to the over 300 defendants, but only three returned a completed waiver form. The district court dismissed without prejudice the Kahns’ claims against Merit Medical, CryoLife, and three physicians  for  improper  venue because “the Khans had not contended that any of these defendants resided in the Northern District of Illinois, and the Khans had failed to plausibly allege that any of them infringed the asserted claim in the district and had a ‘regular and established place of business’ in the district.”

Are Machines ‘Agents’ for Purposes of the Patent Venue Statute? (Part II)

Part I of this article provided an overview of the Federal Circuit’s understanding of the patent venue statute after the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland, and especially the meaning of In re: Google LLC, 949 F.3 1338 (Fed. Cir. 2020) (“SIT”) in this analysis. Part II of the article will address the impact that “machines” may be considered a factor in the analysis of whether venue in a patent infringement can be asserted in a particular location, as raised by the court in Personalized Media Communications LLC v. Google, Netflix, 2:19-CV-00090-JRG (Lead Case). As more and more companies move at least part of their operations online, especially now in response to the COVID-19 crisis, companies, as part of this process, should consider whether this will increase the chances that they will be sued in a district that they regard as unfavorable.

TC Heartland Two Years On: Waiting for Federal Circuit Panels to Get on the Same Page

In May of 2017, the United States Supreme Court delivered a unanimous decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Brands LLC that reversed the Federal Circuit and said that 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) remains the only applicable patent venue statute, that 28 U.S.C. 1391(c) did not modify or amend 1400(b) or the Court’s 1957 ruling in Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., and that the term “residence” in 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) means only the state in which a company is incorporated. Since TC Heartland, courts and plaintiffs have struggled to understand the real world application of this decision; most recently, the Federal Circuit in In re Google allowed a case to remain in the Eastern District of Texas because Google had servers there. Thus, while the decision has undoubtedly resulted in a shift away from the heyday of the Eastern District of Texas, the precise parameters of a “physical presence” sufficient to satisfy venue remain murky. To examine the effect TC Heartland has had so far, I recently sat down with Mike Oropallo of Barclay Damon, who has been out there litigating patent cases around the country. Among other observations, Oropallo says that—as usual—it all comes down to the Federal Circuit. Read on for more.

Mandamus Relief Denied: Federal Circuit Avoids Clarifying TC Heartland in In re Google LLC

The Federal Circuit recently elected not to decide en banc “whether servers are a regular and established place of business, such that venue is proper under 35 U.S.C. § 1400(b). In re: Google LLC, No. 2018-152 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 5, 2019) (Before Prost, Chief Judge, Newman, Lourie, Dyk, Moore, O’Malley, Reyna, Wallach, Taranto, Chen, Hughes, and Stoll, Circuit Judges) (Dissent by Reyna, Circuit Judge, joined by Newman and Lourie, Circuit Judges). SEVEN Networks, LLC’s (SEVEN) patent infringement suit against Google arose in the Eastern District of Texas. SEVEN alleged Google’s servers, stored in a third-party ISP’s facility, where the allegedly infringing activities occurred, were a regular and established place of business, such that venue is proper under 35 U.S.C. § 1400(b). The district court denied Google’s motion to dismiss for improper venue. As a result, Google petitioned the Federal Circuit for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to dismiss or transfer the case for improper venue. On appeal, the panel majority found mandamus relief inappropriate because “it is not known if the district court’s ruling involves the kind of broad and fundamental legal questions relevant to § 1400(b),” and “it would be appropriate to allow the issue to percolate in the district courts so as to more clearly define the importance, scope, and nature of the issue for us to review.”

The Newest Patent ‘Rocket-Docket’: Waco, Texas

Marshall, Texas has been, and will likely continue to be, one of the major patent litigation cities in the United States. But, Waco, Texas is quickly becoming the new mecca for patent infringement lawsuits due to recent case law and the arrival of a patent-savvy district judge. In the world of patent litigation, we all know Marshall, Texas. The Eastern District of Texas—which includes the Marshall Division—is known to be one of the largest as far as numbers of patent litigation lawsuit filings in the U.S. The economic impact on the region has been significant, as service industries such as hotels, temporary offices, restaurants and catering companies grew to serve the regular flow of litigators and their clients coming to Marshall for hearings and trials from around the country. Several national and regional law firms specializing in patent litigation opened satellite offices in and around Marshall to serve their frequent needs for access to the busy courthouse.

Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Comcast Highlights Attractiveness of Middle District of Florida for Patent Plaintiffs

On August 1st, Fort Myers, FL-based over-the-top (OTT) Internet television provider WhereverTV filed a suit alleging patent infringement against Philadephia, PA-based telecommunications conglomerate Comcast Corporation. Despite the fact that Comcast is headquartered in Pennsylvania and the inventor listed on WhereverTV’s patent resides in Pennsylvania, the complaint was filed in the Middle District of Florida, a district which has been growing more attractive for parties filing patent infringement suits.

Congressman Rohrabacher Introduces the Inventor Protection Act to Protect Inventor-Owned Patents

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has introduced H.R. 6557, the Inventor Protection Act, into the House of Representatives. This bill is the latest proposed piece of legislation to help undo some of the more damaging effects of recent federal government actions on patent law which have negatively impacted the ability of patent owners to enforce their patent rights against infringers.

In a Multi-District State, venue proper where defendant maintains a principal place of business

In patent infringement suits brought against a corporate defendant in a state with multiple judicial districts, venue is only proper in the single district where the defendant maintains a principal place of business. If the principal place of business is not in the state of incorporation, venue is proper in the single judicial district where the office registered in its corporate filings is located.

2017 Saw Fewest Patent Lawsuits Filed Since 2011

Q4 2017 saw a total of 981 patent infringement cases filed in district courts, the second-lowest total for any quarter in 2017 and the third-lowest total for any quarter dating to the third quarter of 2011. The 4,057 patent suits filed in district court through 2017 was the lowest total for an entire year since 2011… A week-by-week graph of patent filings shows that, while Eastern Texas saw a much greater share of patent filings than Delaware in the months leading up to the TC Heartland decision, Delaware filings have topped Eastern Texas filings in almost every week since the SCOTUS decision.

Venue Options for Patent Owners After TC Heartland and In re Cray

With venue for patent infringement actions under § 1400(b) narrowed after TC Heartland and In re Cray, patent owners could use declaratory judgment (DJ) actions to secure their desired venue because venue in DJ actions is governed by § 1391. The Declaratory Judgment Act provides federal courts with the authority to “declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party” where an “actual controversy” exists. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201–02… The ITC offers patent owners yet another venue option outside of § 1400(b).

TC Heartland Update: Decision Changed the Law on Venue

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued its decision in In re Micron Tech., Inc., Case No. 2017-138 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2017), and resolved a question that had divided district courts and commentators throughout the United States following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017):  Did TC Heartland change the law of venue in patent cases such that a party’s failure to raise a venue defense in its initial responsive pleading could be excused?  The Federal Circuit held: “We conclude that TC Heartland changed the controlling law in the relevant sense: at the time of the initial motion to dismiss, before the Court decided TC Heartland, the venue defense now raised by Micron (and others) based on TC Heartland’s interpretation of the venue statute was not “available,” thus making the waiver rule . . . inapplicable.”

Is Brookings Pushing an Efficient Infringer Narrative with Biased Panel Discussion?

Unfortunately, there’s every indication that today’s event at Brookings will feature more of the same kind of misguided rhetoric on perceived issues with the patent system which don’t truly exist. The evidence for this starts with the moderator for the day’s final roundtable discussion, titled Realigning Incentives to Increase Patent Quality. The moderator for this discussion will be Tim Lee, senior reporter of tech policy for Ars Technica. Lee has written in the past on the effects of “ridiculous patent litigation” and has given space to viewpoints which want to limit patentability in certain sectors, such as in business methods. Lee has also been very critical of appellate court decisions in patent cases in recent years to the point that assertions he’s made on case law regarding the patentability of software inventions border on the ridiculously absurd. This individual, who has a clearly anti-patent viewpoint, will be controlling the discussion during the final panel roundtable on patent policy.

Importance of Motions to Stay in Modern Patent Litigation

The TC Heartland decision follows the trend of eroding patent holder rights due to the potential for infringers to more easily move the lawsuit to a more favorable forum and in some cases have the issues of infringement and discovery for same stayed for a year or more.  As patents and mechanisms to enforce patents become weaker, the high-tech economy of Northern California will begin to diminish as foreign companies encounter fewer obstacles in their way to compete against companies with weaker IP rights… Because so much hinges on a stay motion in modern patent litigation cases, this predominant statistic influences where plaintiffs should consider filing their patent complaint.

Lex Machina Q3 litigation update shows effects of TC Heartland, Oil States on patent case filings

Although patent litigation levels through the first nine months of 2017 have largely remained consistent with patterns from recent years, it does appear that the number of patent suits filed in U.S. district courts has been on a slow decline in recent years. There were a total of 995 patent lawsuits filed in district court during 2017’s third quarter, an 8.4 percent decline when compared to totals from 2016’s third quarter. Year-over-year declines in patent suit filing were also seen in the first and second quarters of 2016 as well. As Lex Machina data scientist Brian Howard notes, 2017 continued a trend in which patent suit filings tend to drop in the first quarter of the year, rise during the second quarter and then fall again during the third quarter. “Historically, that’s a pattern that we’ve seen pretty consistently in the past few years,” Howard said.