Since the US Supreme Court issued its decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, RPX has seen an upswing in venue-related filings by both plaintiffs and defendants—with indications that some NPEs may be throwing in the towel on Texas, while others are seemingly digging in. Defendants have also begun to adapt their defensive strategies, asserting more comprehensive interpretations of the patent venue statute and proactively maintaining their right to bring venue challenges down the road.
Roughly ten days after the US Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision on patent venue, Monument Patent Holdings, LLC, through the plaintiff, its subsidiary Visual Effect Innovations, LLC (VEI), and sole defendant NVIDIA filed a joint stipulation to transfer the case between them from the Eastern District of Texas to the Northern District of California. In January 2017, NVIDIA sought to a change of venue for convenience to the Northern District, explicitly reserving in its motion the right to contest the propriety of venue in Texas under any eventual TC Heartland decision. NVIDIA is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Santa Clara. The court has signed the joint stipulation, and the case has been transferred, formally under the provision of the venue statutes related to convenience transfers, to a new number (3:17-cv-03187) in the Northern District of California.
The first of the ten or so Texas NPEs formed by Monument Patent Holdings, LLC since mid-August has now filed litigation, asserting a single patent (7,954,701) in two suits, one filed against each of TGI Friday’s (2:16-cv-01119) and Whole Foods Market (2:16-cv-01120). The plaintiff, Millennium Commerce, LLC, pleads ownership of the ‘701 patent, although no assignment to the NPE has been recorded with the USPTO. One member of a somewhat famous family, the ‘701 patent generally relates to a point-of-sale terminal that processes “cash back” transactions, and the accused products are the defendants’ transaction terminals.