In the pending mandamus action of TC Heartland, the merits panel has taken one step forward by ordering oral arguments – set for March 11, 2016. Although the order was a per curiam decision by the Merits Panel, it does not, on its face, reveal the identity of the three judge panel. The petition asks the Federal Circuit to change its rule on patent venue and personal jurisdiction. If the petitioner here wins, we could see a dramatic shift in the geographic distribution of patent cases. In other words, it would become much more difficult to bring an infringement action in the ongoing hot-spot of the Eastern District of Texas.
More on the case from Patently-O: https://patentlyo.com/?s=Heartland
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As I’ve written before, the actual venue and jurisdiction issues in the case are both important and fascinating. My question on this ruling stems from the secrecy — that the merits panel issued an order without revealing the identity of the panel members. [OK – a couple of folks have convinced me that this secrecy is proper (or at least SOP) since the court did not make any substantive decisions but only provided notice of oral arguments.]