At first blush, a discussion of the rules governing venue of patent infringement lawsuits sounds like a boring topic. But those rules have led to some unexpected real-world situations. For example, in some recent years patent lawsuits filed in small eastern Texas towns accounted for more than 40 percent of all U.S. patent infringement lawsuits. In TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, No. 16-341, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the current interpretation of the venue laws, which could change where corporations are subject to patent suits.

Development of Patent Litigation Hotspots

Marshall, Texas—a small town about three hours east of Dallas—is not well known except to local residents, fans of the boxer George Foreman or former Eagles cornerback Bobby Taylor (who played football at nearby Longview High School), the attendees of the annual FireAnt Festival, and to patent lawyers. Although this latter group is not what first comes to mind when you think of a small East Texas town, patent owners routinely file suit in Marshall. Texas is not usually the corporate home of the defendant companies. So, why eastern Texas?

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