When filing a lawsuit against a company, it needs to be filed in the place where the company was formed or where it has substantial business ties. This location represents the "venue" where the case is heard, which for some companies could include a variety of locations. When it comes to patent law cases, lawsuits are often filed in locations where goods that supposedly infringe on another's patent are sold. It might surprise many people to know that in 2015, a favorite venue for these cases was right here in Texas, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch.
During that year, as many as 45 percent of all patent infringement cases in the United States were filed in the Eastern District of Texas. In fact, as many as 33 percent of the cases filed in that court were before one judge. This is because that federal court is known to be "plaintiff-friendly." Defendants could spend thousands of dollars from the start of the cases, and a large percentage of the cases actually go all the way to trial, even as proceedings continue in the Patent and Trademark Office.
The case that the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear could change the way patent infringement cases are filed. Plaintiffs could become restricted regarding the venues where they can file claims. Many believe this would be a good thing because patent trolls tend to abuse the current law in order to extort settlements from companies who would rather settle than spend the money defending a bogus claim. It could be said that this practice diminishes the validity of claims in which actual infringement occurs.
This makes the case currently before the court an important one, especially for individuals and small companies that hold patents. Depending on the court's ruling, it could become more of a challenge for them to assert their rights under a particular patent. Patent law attorneys will more than likely be keeping a close eye on this case since it could affect how they represent their clients who claim that a company infringed on its patents.
Source: wired.com, "The Supreme Court Should Bring Sanity to Patent Law", Orrin Hatch, March 26, 2017