‘Examining the Supreme Court’s TC Heartland Decision’: Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the Internet

11 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 7 Jul 2017

See all articles by Adam Mossoff

Adam Mossoff

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School

Date Written: June 13, 2017


In TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, the United States Supreme Court construed the venue provision in the patent statute, limiting the filing of lawsuits against defendant corporations to the districts in which they are incorporated. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion ostensibly frames the issue as one of only statutory interpretation. But we cannot assess TC Heartland’s impact on patent owners and on the innovation economy generally without first understanding the past decade of extensive lobbying and strategic litigation that have narrowed or outright eliminated U.S. patent rights.

TC Heartland is part and parcel of this broader campaign to weaken U.S. patent rights. Empirical studies confirm that TC Heartland does not change the concentration of patent lawsuits in a few districts -- the alleged ill that TC Heartland was supposed to end. It merely shifts lawsuits from one district to two other districts that are widely recognized as favorable to defendants sued for patent infringement. Thus, it increases costs for the enforcement of all U.S. patent rights -- harming the patent owners who are the foundation of the innovation economy, such as individual inventors, startups, universities, and small businesses, among others.

If Congress considers further revisions to the patent statutes, it should not pursue any legislation that further weakens the patent rights that have been the fountainhead of the U.S. innovation economy for over two hundred years. A decade of court decisions, regulatory actions, and legislation already have undermined the promise of stable and effective property rights once secured by the gold-standard U.S. patent system. Congress should do no further harm to the U.S. patent system, killing the jobs and economic growth created by the innovation economy.

Keywords: Patent Assertion Entity, PAE, Patent Troll, Michael Risch, Colleen Chien, Eastern District of Texas, Marshall, Texas, District of Delaware, Northern District of California, Patent Litigation, Patent Reform, VENUE Act, Innovation Act, HR 9

Suggested Citation

Mossoff, Adam, ‘Examining the Supreme Court’s TC Heartland Decision’: Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the Internet (June 13, 2017). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 17-29, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2993438 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2993438

Adam Mossoff (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-9577 (Phone)

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