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“TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands”

Decision of the Supreme Court 22 May 2017 – Case No. 16–341

  1. 1.

    Respondent filed a patent infringement suit in the District Court for the District of Delaware against petitioner, a competitor that is organized under Indiana law and headquartered in Indiana but ships the allegedly infringing products into Delaware. Petitioner moved to transfer venue to a District Court in Indiana, claiming that venue was improper in Delaware.

  2. 2.

    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 Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222, 226, this Court concluded that for purposes of §1400(b) a domestic corporation “resides” only in its State of incorporation, rejecting the argument that §1400(b) incorporates the broader definition of corporate “residence” contained in the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. §1391(c). Congress has not amended §1400(b) since Fourco, but it has twice amended §1391, which now provides that, “[e]xcept as otherwise provided by law” and “[f]or all venue purposes”, a corporation “shall be deemed to reside, if a defendant, in any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction with respect to the civil action in question”. §§1391(a), (c).

  3. 3.

    Held: As applied to domestic corporations, “reside[nce]” in §1400(b) refers only to the State of incorporation. The amendments to §1391 did not modify the meaning of §1400(b) as interpreted by Fourco.

  4. 4.

    The parties dispute the implications of petitioner’s argument for foreign corporations. We do not here address that question, nor do we express any opinion on this Court’s holding in Brunette Machine Works, Ltd. v. Kockum Industries, Inc., 406 U.S. 706 (1972) (determining proper venue for foreign corporation under then existing statutory regime).

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Available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-341_8n59.pdf.

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TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC 28 U.S.C. §1400(b); §1391(c). “TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands”. IIC 48, 985–986 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40319-017-0652-4

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Keywords

  • Patent law
  • Residence of defendant