The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued its decision in In re Micron Tech., Inc., Case No. 2017-138 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2017), and resolved a question that had divided district courts and commentators throughout the United States following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017): Did TC Heartland change the law of venue in patent cases such that a party’s failure to raise a venue defense in its initial responsive pleading could be excused? The Federal Circuit held: “We conclude that TC Heartland changed the controlling law in the relevant sense: at the time of the initial motion to dismiss, before the Court decided TC Heartland, the venue defense now raised by Micron (and others) based on TC Heartland’s interpretation of the venue statute was not “available,” thus making the waiver rule . . . inapplicable.”
On May 22, 2017, in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, LLC, 137 S.Ct. 1514 (2017), the Supreme Court held that patent venue is controlled exclusively by 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), which restricts venue in patent cases to (1) where the Defendant resides, or (2) where the Defendant commits an act of infringement and has a regular and established place of business. The decision was immediately hailed by commentators as a significant break with past precedent… Despite the common perception of practitioners that the TC Heartland decision changed the law of venue in patent cases, the majority of district courts to address this issue have come to the opposite conclusion, finding that the decision merely reaffirmed existing law and could not excuse the failure to raise the defense earlier. The reasoning of these decisions is questionable, as is the refusal of these courts to recognize how dramatically TC Heartland changed the landscape for patent litigation.