Forum Shopping and Patent Law: A Comment on TC Heartland

24 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2017

See all articles by Robert G. Bone

Robert G. Bone

University of Texas School of Law

Date Written: December 15, 2017


In TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, the Supreme Court altered more than twenty-five years of Federal Circuit precedent by narrowly construing the patent venue statute to limit residence-based venue for infringement suits against corporate defendants to the defendant’s place of incorporation. Although the case involved a technical issue of statutory interpretation, it directly implicated substantial questions of patent policy related to the concentration of case filings, patent trolls, and the efficacy of the patent system. Moreover, the Court’s decision risked potentially serious consequences to the economic health of communities in East Texas, especially the town of Marshall, Texas. Yet the Court’s unanimous opinion says nothing about any of these aspects and relies instead on a mostly textualist analysis of the venue statute. This is a surprising omission, especially as the potential effects of the decision are so significant and the statutory text offers so little guidance. This invited essay describes the broader patent context and the real world stakes, critically examines the Court’s textualist analysis, and offers possible reasons why even the more functionally and pragmatically oriented Justices on the Court might have been willing to join an opinion so focused on text and so inattentive to consequences and context.

Keywords: patent venue, TC Heartland, patent trolls, patent assertion entity, forum shopping, forum selling

JEL Classification: K11, K39, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Bone, Robert G., Forum Shopping and Patent Law: A Comment on TC Heartland (December 15, 2017). 96 Tex. L. Rev. 141 (2017), U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 689, Available at SSRN:

Robert G. Bone (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512-232-5562 (Phone)
512-471-6988 (Fax)

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