TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods is a case that effectively asks the court to decide whether patent owners can sue in practically any corner of the country. The current law allows patent owners to pick and choose between federal courts, often opting for courts that are perceived to have rules and procedures favorable to their position. The result has been astounding. In 2015, almost 45% of all cases were filed in the Eastern District of Texas, a relatively rural part of the country that has no major technology industry.
When patent owners can drag defendants into court in far-flung corners of the country it can cause significant harm, especially for those who are on the receiving end of a frivolous lawsuit. Patent owners can pick a forum that is less inclined to grant fees, keep costs down, or stay cases. As a result, oftentimes it is cheaper to settle even a frivolous case than to fight. We’re glad to see that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this important case that could significantly curtail some of the worst actors in the patent game.
For additional briefing on this case, visit SCOTUSblog.