Federal Circuit Backs Existing Rule Allowing Suits Against Foreign Defendants in Any District

May 16, 2018

The Federal Circuit has declined to revisit the US Supreme Court’s precedent allowing suits to be brought against foreign defendants in any district. In its 1972 decision in Brunette Machine Works v. Kockum Industries, the Supreme Court held that a prior version of the statute providing that rule (presently 35 USC § 1391(c)(3)) governed suits against foreign patent defendants rather than the patent-specific venue statute, under the long-standing principle that foreign defendants fall outside all federal venue laws. That rule had been challenged by HTC in a February 21 petition for writ of mandamus, after a district court found in a suit brought by 3G Licensing S.A. and Koninklijke KPN that venue was proper as to HTC’s primary Taiwanese entity but not as to an American subsidiary. In a May 9 ruling denying that petition in In re: HTC, the Federal Circuit reaffirmed Brunette and rejected the argument that TC Heartland and 2011 amendments to the general venue statute precluded that case’s interpretation of the foreign venue statute (2018-0130).

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