Supreme Court Declines to Revisit Rule That Foreign Corporations May Be Sued in Any District

March 1, 2019

The US Supreme Court caused a dramatic realignment in patent venue through its May 2017 decision in TC Heartland, ruling that the patent-specific venue statute governs in patent suits and confirming that corporations “reside” in their state of incorporation. However, in that opinion, the Court explicitly declined to address any impact on foreign defendants or to revisit an earlier holding that preserved a far more expansive rule for such parties. That 1972 decision, Brunette Machine Works v. Kockum Industries, reaffirmed that foreign defendants may be sued in any district, a longstanding principle known as the “alien venue rule”. Now, the Court has strengthened Brunette by denying a petition for certiorari in which HTC had argued that Brunette was inconsistent with TC Heartland and the general venue statute, as amended in 2011.

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