News

Supreme Court decision changes venue rules in patent cases

Q&A with Jessica John Bowman

published in The Oklahoman | June 1, 2017

On May 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Federal Circuit in an opinion that addressed where patent infringement actions may be filed. In a Q&A with The Oklahoman, McAfee & Taft patent lawyer Jessica John Bowman discussed the high court’s ruling and the practical impact it will have on parties in a patent infringement lawsuit.

The patent venue statute in question, 28 U.S.C. §1004(b), provides that a plaintiff may sue a defendant “in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” According to John Bowman, the Federal Circuit had interpreted this statute broadly, to even include jurisdictions where a defendant’s infringing product simply was sold. As a result, defendants were often forced to appear and litigate in unfamiliar and inconvenient venues far away from their operations. In its 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the Federal Circuit erred by broadening the scope the statute.

“This opinion will limit a plaintiff’s ability to strategically file infringement cases in plaintiff-friendly forums,” said John Bowman. “Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, plaintiffs could ‘shop’ for the most favorable forum and file suit there, even if the defendant had no connection with that forum other than a few sales of the allegedly infringing product. Now, defendants can only be sued in their state of incorporation, or in those jurisdictions where the defendant has both committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.”