Navigating Patent Lawsuits Post-TC Heartland Decision: Understanding Jurisdiction and Venue


On May 22, 2017, the Supreme Court rendered a pivotal decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, reshaping the landscape of patent litigation. In essence, the ruling established that patent lawsuits must commence in the federal court district where the defendant resides or where infringement occurred, coupled with the defendant having a place of business.

Essential Legal Concepts:

  1. Jurisdiction: Defines the type of court authorized to hear a case. Federal courts handle federal law matters, while state courts address state issues unless diversity among parties necessitates federal involvement.

  2. Venue: Identifies the appropriate district for a case. For patent lawsuits, 28 U.S.C. §1400(b) dictates that actions can be brought where the defendant resides or where the infringement took place and a regular place of business exists.

Impact of the TC Heartland Decision:

Before this ruling, patent plaintiffs often filed in the Eastern District of Texas or the District of Delaware. The Eastern District of Texas, handling 25% of all patent cases since 2014, was preferred for its expediency and higher jury awards.

Post-TC Heartland, plaintiffs must carefully consider the proper venue for filing patent lawsuits, as the ruling restricts forum shopping.


Infringement of patents

Criticism and Perspectives:

Kraft’s petition criticizes the case’s relevance, arguing it doesn’t exemplify forum-shopping concerns. The defendant, Heartland, should have anticipated trial in Delaware, given its activities there.

Some speculate the Supreme Court intervened primarily to curb filings in the Eastern District of Texas, not due to the case’s core forum-shopping issues.

Future Outlook:

The extent of TC Heartland’s impact depends on how courts interpret and apply the ruling. Key questions include the narrowness of interpretation and the criteria for determining venue in patent infringement cases.

As the legal landscape continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how courts will navigate the nuances of jurisdiction and venue in patent litigation, shaping the future of patent disputes in the United States.

Do you have questions about your patent or the possibility of filing a patent infringement lawsuit?  Contact us at Verna Law at or 914-908-6757.