The basic issue is whether the particular limits on patent venue spelled out in 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) should be given effect in the face of broader venue allowances in the more generalized Section 1391(c).
(b) Any civil action for patent infringement may be brought 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.
For the past several decades, the court has applied the broader statute 1391(c), and permitted venue so long as the district court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. That application has opened the door to venue in E.D. Texas even when the defendant has no place of business there.
John Vandenberg’s team at Klarquist has filed a brief on behalf 24 companies many of which are oft-sued in the E.D. Texas, including Asus, Google, eBay, LinkedIn, NewEgg, SAP, SAS, etc.
The analysis … must start by asking whether this special patent venue statute, standing alone, limits a domestic corporation’s residence to its state of incorporation. The answer is yes: “where the defendant resides” in § 1400(b) “mean[s] the state of incorporation only” for a corporation. (quoting the Supreme Court Fourco decision). . . .
The analysis turns next to the current general venue statute. The question is whether it supersedes this restrictive definition of domestic corporation residence in the special patent venue statute. The answer is that it does not [because the] current general venue statute expressly subordinates itself to the special venue provisions.
On the policy side, the Amici first highlight the recent John Oliver show ridiculing the E.D. of Texas patent litigation. The amici then make the argument that forum shopping should not be allowed because it “allows patent owners to choose the forum least likely in our country to allow a speedy or low-cost determination of invalidity or non-infringement. . . . This does not merely disadvantage individual defendants. It undermines the public policy favoring strict scrutiny of issued patents. . . . [H]aving 40% of patent suits in a single district not only burdens individual defendants, it also defeats core public policies of our patent system.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge also filed a joint brief in support of mandamus. EFF highlights Judge Moore’s earlier work (then as Professor Moore) where she wrote that extensive forum shopping “conjures negative images of a manipulable legal system in which justice is not imparted fairly or predictably.” Kimberly A. Moore, Forum Shopping in Patent Cases: Does Geographic Choice Affect Innovation?, 79 N.C. L. Rev. 889 (2001). The brief also highlights a new work by Daniel Klerman & Greg Reilly entitled Forum Selling that argues “judges in the Eastern District have consciously sought to attract patentees and have done so by departing from mainstream doctrine in a variety of procedural areas in a pro-patentee (pro-plaintiff) way.” Neither Moore nor Klerman/Reilly make the 1400(b) argument, but both suggest that forum shopping – when taken too far – is a problem.
Kraft’s brief in opposition is due November 9.