Supreme Court decision curtails 'court shopping' by patent trolls

A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could put an end to the practice of shopping for a friendly court by complainants in patent cases.

Historically, patent holders have had the ability to select a court likely to favor their claim as long as the party being sued had sold the allegedly infringing product within that court's jurisdiction, according to a publication by the law firm of Tarter, Krinsky & Grogan.

However, in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiff was allowed to file a patent suit only in the state where the defending company is incorporated — narrowing the looser interpretation used by the federal circuit courts.

According to Tarter Krinsky:

The ruling will limit the ability of many patent owners to pursue cases in "patent-friendly" jurisdictions such as the Eastern District of Texas (where around 40 percent of patent infringement suits are currently filed). However, an increase is expected in patent suits filed in the District of Delaware, since many companies are incorporated there.

The ruling is a blow to "patent trolls" — i.e., "any party that attempts to enforce a patent far beyond its actual value or contribution to the prior art," as defined by the former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Randall Ray Rader.

Three years ago this month, the Supreme Court ruled in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International that "abstract ideas, like laws of nature and natural phenomenon, cannot be protected by patents," a decision that weakened the claims of many patent trolls.

Topics: Regulatory Issues

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