Sad! Patent trolls, who’ve benefited from a 30-year-old legal standard that made it possible for patent holders to sue companies in almost any U.S. jurisdiction — including a federal district in east Texas that’s notorious for serving a a favorable venue for patent holders — just lost their ability to bring infringement lawsuits in such plaintiff-friendly places.
In a unanimous ruling, the court ruled instead that companies can be sued for patent infringement only where they reside or where they have a regular and established place of business.
The ruling is a blow to companies that hold patents almost solely so they can sue companies into financial awards.
Law school academics now expect many cases to move to Delaware, where many companies are incorporated, as well as to tech hubs like California and Massachusetts. There, not only will the companies being sued be better equipped to fight off trolls, owing to their home court advantage, but according to the WSJ, the cases may well take longer to process, too. This could prove especially true of Delaware, whose judges will undoubtedly be facing much heavier patent caseloads and don’t have the same machinery in place to churn through them as in rural east Texas, which has reportedly been home to an astonishing 30 percent of patent cases in recent years.
Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Google are frequently embroiled in such patent disputes. Today’s ruling had nothing to do with tech companies, however. Instead, the high court was ruling today on a legal battle between the beverage flavoring company TC Heartland LLC and the food and beverage company Kraft Heinz Co.