United States Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court decided earlier this year that a 1957 opinion is still valid and still limits venue choices for patent infringement actions under 28 U.S.C. § 1400.  See TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, 581 U.S. ___ (2017) (citing Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222, 226 (1957)).  In its extensively-covered TC Heartland decision issued in May, the Court held that “[a]s applied to domestic corporations, ‘reside[nce]’ in § 1400(b) refers only to the State of incorporation,” where the accused infringer has a “regular and established place of business” in the venue. While framed as merely confirmation of precedent from the 1950s, many practitioners and commentators viewed this decision as a dramatic change in the patent litigation landscape.

Since TC Heartland came down, lower courts have applied the new paradigm in differing ways.  As trends have developed in recent months, we thought it useful to provide a sampling of the various approaches to venue issues post-TC Heartland.  These issues include, for example, whether defendants who did not contest venue prior to the TC Heartland decision waived the defense of improper venue because the case was—or was not—an “intervening change” in the law, and how to assess whether a defendant has regular and established place of business in a particular venue.

Continue Reading Making the Sausage: Lower Courts Grapple With the Supreme Court’s TC Heartland Venue Decision

Late last week, the Federal Circuit granted a writ of mandamus in In re Cray, 2017-129 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 21, 2017), overturning Judge Gilstrap’s four-factor test for determining whether a defendant possesses “a regular and established place of business” in a district such that the defendant could be sued for patent infringement in that district.  In re Cray provides useful guidance because it is the first time since the Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision that the Federal Circuit has weighed in on what constitutes a “regular and established place of business.”  The patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), provides that venue is proper in a patent infringement lawsuit only where the defendant (1) resides or (2) has “committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.”  TC Heartland clarified that a defendant “resides” only in the state in which it is incorporated.  It did not address the second prong, however, which is an alternative way of establishing venue.  More frequently patent owners are looking to the second prong to determine the locus of an appropriate venue now that the first prong of the statute has been interpreted narrowly.

Continue Reading Federal Circuit Clarifies Venue Requirement Post-TC Heartland by Granting Mandamus Relief in In re Cray

In a move that could drastically change the patent law landscape, the United States Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group LLC, No. 16-712, to answer the question whether the inter partes review (IPR) process violates the U.S. Constitution by “extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury.”

In 2001, Oil States Energy Services LLC (“Oil States”) was granted U.S. Patent No. 6,179,053 for a lockdown mechanism to ensure a mandrel is locked in an operative position during fracking.  Oil States sued Greene’s Energy Group LLC (“Greene’s Energy”) in the Eastern District of Texas in 2012 for infringing this patent, and in turn, Greene’s Energy petitioned the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to institute an IPR on the patent.  This petition was granted. After the proceedings, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the administrative body of the USPTO that handles IPRs, concluded the challenged patent claims were invalid.  Oil States appealed to the Federal Circuit, which affirmed the decision, and Oil States then petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari.

Continue Reading Supreme Court to Decide the Constitutionality of Inter Partes Review

In a unanimous decision issued on June 12, 2017, the Supreme Court for the first time interpreted key provisions of the 2010 Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”). See Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc., No. 15-1195 (U.S. June 12, 2017). The Court’s decision grants more flexibility to biosimilar companies and filers of abbreviated Biologics License Applications (“aBLAs”), holding that (1) a reference product sponsor is not entitled to injunctive relief under federal law for an applicant’s refusal to provide a copy of its aBLA and manufacturing information during the information exchange period contemplated by the BPCIA, and (2) an applicant may provide statutory 180-day pre-launch notice of commercial marketing before its proposed biosimilar product is licensed by FDA. An overview of the parties’ oral arguments before the Court on these issues can be found here.

Continue Reading Amgen v. Sandoz: The Supreme Court’s First Biosimilars Ruling

DC_SupremeCourtIn keeping with recent erosion of patent rights, patent owners’ power to control the post-sale use and sale of their patented products was severely limited this week by the U.S. Supreme Court in the highly anticipated case regarding the patent exhaustion doctrine, Lexmark Int’l, Inc. v. Impression Prods., Inc., No. 15-1189.

As we reported earlier here and here, the Federal Circuit previously provided patent owners with some power to control their patented products—even after an authorized sale.  Specifically, the Federal Circuit held, in an en banc decision, that a patent owner’s patent rights are not exhausted if a patented product is sold with a clearly communicated restriction and that an authorized foreign sale of a product does not exhaust the patent owner’s U.S. patent rights to exclude associated with that product.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Overrules and Rewrites 25 Years of Federal Circuit Law on Patent Exhaustion

The U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC on May 22, 2017, a patent infringement case that has garnered national attention for its implications on venue. This case originated with a motion to transfer an action filed in the District of Delaware to the Southern District of Indiana, where the Defendant accused of patent infringement is headquartered. However, the national attention has focused on the possibility that a significant amount of other patent litigation may now shift to the District of Delaware. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari at the end of last year and heard oral arguments in March to address the question of “where proper venue lies for a patent infringement lawsuit brought against a domestic corporation.” The Court has now provided a response to this key question, although a few issues still remain.

Continue Reading Patent Litigation Venue: Supreme Court Clarifies Venue Statutes in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods.

Supreme-Court-seal II. jpgYesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the much-anticipated Amgen v. Sandoz case, representing the first time the Court has had to grapple with the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”) since this key law went into effect in 2010.  The BPCIA created a new, abbreviated pathway for highly similar biological products to enter the U.S. market by following in the footsteps of a reference biological product.  The Court’s decision, which should issue in June, will be closely watched by participants in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and health care sectors.

To read our full alert on the oral argument, please click here.

Continue Reading Amgen v. Sandoz: The Supreme Court’s First Tussle with the BPCIA

 

Leaving EDTX.pngOn Monday, March 27, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, a case that could have a profound impact on where patent infringement cases may be litigated.

Although this case has focused a lot of attention on the Eastern District of Texas – a hotbed of patent litigation – it wasn’t even filed in that district. TC Heartland moved to transfer a patent infringement action that Kraft Foods filed in the District of Delaware (a distant second to the Eastern District of Texas in terms of the volume of patent litigation) to the Southern District of Indiana, where TC Heartland is headquartered. After that motion was denied, TC Heartland appealed to the Federal Circuit, arguing that the patent venue statute (28 U.S.C. §1400(b)), not the general venue statute (§1391(c)), sets forth the requirements for venue in patent cases, a position that would limit the venues available to plaintiffs in most infringement actions. In denying TC Heartland’s petition, the Federal Circuit reaffirmed its long-standing view that patent suits may be filed in any judicial district in which the defendant sells an allegedly infringing product. But the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on the appeal, perhaps signaling the Court’s willingness to overturn almost 30 years of practice.

Continue Reading Will 30 Years Of Practice Be Overturned? Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument In TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods.

Over at the Copyright & Trademark Matters blog, our colleagues have published a complete write-up on the Supreme Court’s decision in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. (No. 15-866), in which the Justice’s ruled that the decorative elements on a cheerleading uniform can fall within the scope of articles protectable by copyright.

Justice Thomas, writing for the majority, ruled that the decorative elements on the cheerleading uniforms (shown below) met the threshold requirement of being  a “pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work” that can be granted a copyright if the copyrightable elements are sufficiently original and meet other requirements of the Copyright Act. Slip Op. at 10-11.

Cheerleader Uniforms

See what Susan Neuberger Weller and Michael Marion have to say about the case here: Let’s Go, Big ©! Let’s Go!

 

Supreme-Court_95619505On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the highly anticipated case regarding the patent exhaustion doctrine, Lexmark Int’l, Inc. v. Impression Prods., Inc., No. 15-1189.

As we reported earlier here, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in an en banc decision, agreed with Lexmark and confirmed two important aspects of the patent exhaustion doctrine, namely that (1) a patentee can “sell[] a patented article subject to a single-use/no-resale restriction that is lawful and clearly communicated to the purchaser” without exhausting the patentee’s rights to that item, thereby permitting enforcement of the restrictions via an infringement suit; and (2) because foreign sales do not permit “the buyer to import the article and sell and use it in the United States,” an authorized foreign sale of a product does not exhaust a patentee’s U.S. patent rights to exclude associated with that product.  The Supreme Court subsequently granted Impression Product’s petition to review these two holdings.

Continue Reading The U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Much Anticipated Patent Exhaustion Case