Washington — The Supreme Court ruled in a case that many hope could prevent some patent trolls from bringing lawsuits to excessively patent-friendly courts like the Eastern District of Texas. The TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods case has been closely watched by tech companies and others which have been targeted by patent trolls trying to bring cases to the Eastern District in hopes of pressing for quick, profitable settlements in cases they couldn’t win in court.
The ruling matched what Computer & Communications Industry Association requested in the amicus brief it filed arguing that the court should narrowly interpret the patent venue statute to prevent forum shopping. This decision prevents a small business that’s headquartered and incorporated in Indiana from being dragged into court in Texas or Delaware.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“This Supreme Court ruling can help curb decades of misuse of the patent system by restricting a common tactic used by patent trolls — forum shopping. For too long patent trolls have relied on a combination of case load back up, high upfront legal costs, favorable rules in courts like the Eastern District and the cost of travel to pressure defending companies to settle court cases the trolls were unlikely to win on the legal merits.
“Even with the Supreme Court ruling, Congress needs to step in with comprehensive patent reform. Patent trolls continue to drain $29 billion a year from US companies, and while today’s ruling removes one tool used to manipulate the system, there are still others enabling the abuse of the patent system. It’s an area ripe for bipartisan cooperation as Congress looks for low cost and no cost ways to grow jobs and the economy.”
For more background on this issue, see Black’s Huffington Post op-ed when the Supreme Court heard the case here.
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