Today, the Supreme Court issued two decisions, described below, of interest to the business community.
The patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), permits a patent infringement action to be brought "in the judicial district where the defendant resides." Although the Supreme Court held in 1957 that § 1400(b) was exclusive and that a corporate defendant "resides," for these purposes, only where it is incorporated, the Federal Circuit held in 1990 that amendments to the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391, had changed the venue calculus in patent cases. The Federal Circuit's approach provided plaintiffs with far greater flexibility in selecting a venue, which resulted in a disproportionate share of patent infringement actions being filed in judicial districts (like the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas) believed to favor the interests of patent holders. Today, in an 8-0 decision authored by Justice Thomas, the Supreme Court rejected the Federal Circuit's approach and held that a domestic corporation can be sued for patent infringement only in its state of incorporation. This decision is likely to shift a substantial amount of patent litigation from Texas to federal courts in states like Delaware and California.
Hague Service Convention—International Service of Process
The Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters—to which the United States is a party—addresses the service of judicial documents among member states. Generally speaking, when the Hague Service Convention applies, certain methods of service are approved and inconsistent methods of service are preempted. Today, the Supreme Court held that the Convention does not prohibit service by mail. That question had previously divided the lower courts. The Supreme Court's conclusion was unanimous (except for Justice Gorusch, who did not participate), and was announced through an opinion authored by Justice Alito.
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