In 2015, patent holders filed 2523 suits in the Eastern District of Texas, according to data compiled by Law 360. That was 45% of all patent cases filed nationwide and 2000 more than the next-busiest forum, the District of Delaware.
On Friday, March 10, the Federal Circuit will hear oral arguments on a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus that could reshape the venue rules for patent litigation. See In re TC Heartland, Case No. 16-105 In summary, the petitioners are asking the court to hold that the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), should not be read in conjunctioni with the general corporate venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c), which provides for venue wherever a corporation is subject to personal jurisdiction. Presently, this has meant that a patent holder can sue a corporation wherever it does business - even if it's just one store or only a few sales. If granted, however, the Petition would bring an end to patent suits against defendants based only on having a place of business in the district.
Provisions added to the Innovation Act in June 2015, still pending in the House of Representatives, also would restrict a plaintiff's venue choices.
Finally, Senators Flake and Gardner are about to introduce a simple, stand-alone patent venue reform bill in the Senate. A draft of that bill limits a patent-holder's venue choices to: the defendant's principal place of business, where the defendant has a regular and established physical facility that gives rise to the alleged infringement, where the inventor developed his or her invention, or where a patent holder that is NOT a non-practicing entity has a regular and established physical facility.
While the current venue rules in patent cases seem ripe for some adjustment or "reform," we also should be careful what we wish for. These arguments and proposals would still allow suits to be brought in the state where a defendant is incorporated. For many folks, this could mean simply moving their patent litigation from Texas to Delaware. Ironically, the petitioners in TC Heartland are trying to transfer their case out of Delaware.
See also, Fix Venue - Fix Patent Litigation