Enlarge / People wait in line to enter the US Supreme Court building in January 2016. (credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
It didn’t take long during oral arguments yesterday for the Supreme Court to hear about the “single judge in the United States that has one-quarter of all patent cases” from a lawyer representing patent defendant TC Heartland. Now, the question is what the court will do about it.
The wonky issue of patent venues is now in the hands of the US Supreme Court, which heard arguments yesterday in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands. Kraft sued TC Heartland for infringing its patents on “liquid water enhancers” in Delaware, and TC Heartland lawyers asked to move the case to its home state of Indiana.

A Delaware judge rejected the case, noting that TC Heartland shipped about 2 percent of the accused products to Delaware.

That was enough to keep the case in the state.
TC Heartland appealed, but the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against the company last year.

The company appealed again, asking the Supreme Court to take its case.

TC Heartland’s petition was bolstered by a brief (PDF) filed by 32 Internet companies, emphasizing that venue rules were being abused by so-called “patent trolls” with no business beyond licensing and litigating patents.

Tech trade associations and public interest groups Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge (PDF) also urged the high court to take the case.
In December, the petition was granted.
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