CALL US: 206.533.3854
CALL US  206.533.3854
AEON Law logo full color transparent
By United States Mint - United States Mint, Public Domain,

Supreme Court Rules on Where Companies “Reside” in Patent Cases

US Supreme Court
Rules companies reside where

The US Supreme Court has ruled that, for purposes of venue in patent cases, a domestic corporation “resides” in the state where it’s incorporated — and thus must be sued for infringement there.

The case of TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods involves two competitors in the market for flavored drink mixes.

Heartland, the petitioner, is organized under Indiana law and based in Indiana.

Kraft is organized under Delaware law and is based in Illinois.

Kraft sued Heartland in the District Court for Delaware, alleging that Heartland’s products infringed one of Kraft’s patents.

Heartland has no meaningful local presence in Delaware but does ship its products to the state.

Heartland moved to dismiss the case or transfer venue to the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The Supreme Court, citing its own 1957 Fourco Glass decision, noted that:

The patent venue statute, 28 U. S. C. §1400(b), provides that “[a]ny 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.”

In Fourco, the Court concluded that for purposes of patent law a corporation “resides” only in its state of incorporation.

In 1990, the Federal Circuit, in the VE Holding case, ruled in response to Congress’s amendment of the general venue statute that “a defendant that is a corporation shall be deemed to reside in any judicial district in which it is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced.”

The Supreme Court has now overruled the Federal Circuit.
The decision is expected to have significant effects on patent litigation practice.

In recent years, the Eastern District of Texas has become a favored venue for patent litigation — and especially for cases brought by Patent Assertion Entities (sometimes called “patent trolls”).

According to Fortune, the Eastern District of Texas

has been a hothouse of patent lawsuits thanks to plaintiff-friendly laws and juries that have a reputation for handing out outsize damages awards.

Given the large number of companies incorporated in Delaware (although they rarely actually do business there), the federal court for the District of Delaware is likely to see a boom in patent cases.

Delaware is already the second-busiest patent district in the federal court system.

Related Articles

Supreme Court: No Time Limit on Monetary Recovery in Copyright Cases

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Sherman Nealy, a record producer who sued Warner Music for copyright infringement over a 2008 song by ...
Read More

Patent Office Requests Public Comment on AI Prior Art

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a request for comment (RFC) on “how AI could affect evaluations of how the level of ordinary skills ...
Read More

FTC Bans Employee Non-Compete Agreements

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has voted to approve a proposed rule that would ban employers from using non-compete agreements with nearly all employees. The ...
Read More

Let's work together.

Contact us to set up a meeting with an attorney or team member.

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive Patent Poetry—a monthly roundup of key IP issues in our signature haiku format. Four articles (only 68 syllables); zero hassle.



Artificial Intelligence

Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Computer Technology & Software

Consumer Electronics

Electrical Devices



Mechanical Devices

Consumer & Retail Products

Hardware & Tools

Toys & Games



Chemical Compounds

Digital Health

Healthcare Products



Books & Publications

Brand Creation

Luxury Products

Photography & Video

Product Design