On Monday， March 27th， the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Brands LLC. The case， arising from allegations of patent infringement over liquid water enhancement products，商标转让的种类， will ask the court to decide whether 28 U.S.C. Section 1400(b)， the patent venue statute which provides that judicial actions for patent suits take place in the district within which the defendant resides， is supplemented by 28 U.S.C. Section 1391(c)， which provides that an entity may reside in multiple districts.
Arguing on behalf of the petitioner TC Heartland was James W. Dabney who began by saying that SCOTUS should hold to its standard set down from 1957’s Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp. This case held that §1400(b) is the exclusive standard in determining the venue in which patent infringement actions may be brought. Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned how this could be the only standard in light of the Court’s 1972 holding in Brunette Machine Wks v. Kochum Industries that §1391(c)， and not §1400(b)， governed patent infringement actions against alien entities. Further， Sotomayor noted that §1400(b) doesn’t define the proper venue for unincorporated associations. Dabney responded，商标转让知识， arguing that domicile was the "linchpin" of §1400(b) and its predecessor and that the respondent’s brief didn’t provide a single example of any issues in interpreting §1400(b) since the Court’s 1959 decision in Sperry Products， Inc.， et. al. v. Aluminum Company of America and Electrocircuits， Inc.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg followed by asking whether there was any other provision which mandated that the venue for a corporation is only the place of incorporation and although Dabney indicated that one could exist， he wasn’t aware of it. Ginsburg followed in questioning on whether corporations were diverse as the place of incorporation and the principal place of business could be in different venues. Dabney’s response circled back to the Fourco Glass case:
Justice Elena Kagan asked Dabney what he thought Congress would have to do to reverse the Court’s Fourco Glass decision without repealing §1400(b). Dabney posited that a change to §1391’s applicability to change the current wording of "except as otherwise provided by law. "The ‘except’ provision makes this case an easier case than Fourco Glass was because at the time of Fourco Glass， all you had was the general venue statute and the very specific tailored， historic venue statute that had been dating back to 1897，" Dabney said. He argued that Congress specifically provided that §1391 didn’t override §1400 but rather that §1391 was subordinate to other statutes and common law. This subordination was a result of Congressional changes to the statute in December 2011， Dabney argued.
Dabney continued by noting that the respondent’s brief seems to contradict itself on Kraft’s position regarding the "except" clause:
Dabney noted that the respondent’s attempt to import meaning from §1391 into §1400 was also attempted by the respondents in the Fourco Glass case. In that case， SCOTUS found that allegations that Fourco Glass， a West Virginia company， was a resident of the Southern District of New York were fictitious. Dabney argued that §1400 was a statute required to prevent adverse litigation experiences set out in amici briefs. This included an amicus brief from 56 law and economics professors which noted that a single judge has a docket holding one-quarter of all U.S. patent cases.
Kagan noted that an "oddity" of the case before SCOTUS that despite the Court’s previous decisions，商标交易转让网， 30 years of rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Fed. Cir.) have ignored that standard and "the law has effectively been otherwise." Fed. Cir.’s 1990 decision in VE Holding Corporation v. Johnson Gas Appliance Company， where the appellant court found that the meaning of "reside" in §1400 had changed， "is the decision that the practice has conformed to." Dabney countered， reasoning that the 2011 changes to the statute indicate that Congress felt that the decision in Fourco Glass was null being disregarded by lower courts. "I would argue that the legislation that Congress passed， far from ratifying that holding， very intentionally abrogated it，" Dabney said. He also cited Section 18(c) of the America Invents Act (AIA)， which provided a new restriction on §1400(b) by deeming that an ATM doesn’t constitute a regular and established place of business.
A lot of discussion about the TC Heartland case surrounds effects that the case would have on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (E.D. Tex.)， the court where the aforementioned judge deciding one-quarter of U.S. patent cases sits. Justice Stephen Breyer seemed to take exception to the fact that so many amici briefs were focused on this: