Further to our ongoing coverage of the post-TC Heartland patent litigation landscape, a pair of recent and interesting cases from Texas and Delaware further evolved this important venue-related jurisprudence.

On November 22, 2017, in Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. FedEx Corp. et al., Case Number 2:16-cv-00980 (E.D. TX Nov. 22, 2017), Judge Rodney Gilstrap denied defendants’ motion to dismiss for improper venue due to their conduct in view of the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in In re Micron, which determined that TC Heartland was a change in the law, potentially reviving venue-based transfer motions previously waived. (We previously covered the In re Micron case here.) Defendants sought to dismiss the case for improper venue a few days after the denial of their IPR petitions. After they participated actively in litigation for months, the court did not take kindly to defendants’ motion. Citing In re Micron, the court reasoned that “defendants who take a ‘tactical wait-and-see’ approach in objecting to venue present ‘an obvious starting point for a claim of forfeiture.’” Further, the court noted that prior to the TC Heartland decision, defendants sought to transfer the case to the Western District of Tennessee under § 1404 rather than § 1406. Judge Gilstrap noted that this reliance on § 1404 was important because that statute “is premised on venue being proper in the transferor court whereas a motion under § 1406 reflects an objection to the current venue as being proper.” Accordingly, the court concluded that defendants’ waived their venue objection based on their own conduct, the judicial resources already expended, and the prejudice to plaintiff in reopening a dormant venue dispute “simply because it has become convenient for Defendants to litigate the issue now.” Continue Reading Lower Courts Continue to Grapple with Venue in the Wake of In re Micron and In re Cray

On June 16, the Federal Circuit issued its first-ever reversal of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision in an America Invents Act post-grant proceeding.  The opinion, drafted by Chief Judge Prost and joined by CAFC Judge Lourie and E.D. Tex. Judge Gilstrap, provides considerable guidance on claim construction and claim amendments in practice before the PTAB.

The case is Microsoft Corp. v. Proxyconn, Inc., No. 2014-1542 and 1543.  It reached the Federal Circuit after Proxyconn asserted U.S. Patent No. 6,757,717 against Microsoft in the Central District of California, and Microsoft initiated two separate inter partes review proceedings against the patent (IPR2012-00026 and IPR2013-00109).  The PTAB joined the two IPRs and granted review on certain claims.  In its final written decision, the PTAB found all but one reviewed claim unpatentable and denied Proxyconn’s motion to amend its claims.  Both parties appealed.  The Patent Office intervened in support of the PTAB’s position.

The Federal Circuit vacated certain portions of the final written decision, holding that the PTAB’s claim constructions exceeded the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard.  The PTAB’s denial of Proxyconn’s motion to amend was not disturbed.  Here are some key takeaways from the case:

Continue Reading Fed Circuit Reverses PTAB Decision in IPR Proceeding