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Coming Home? Federal Circuit Asked to Immediately Weigh in on Proper Venue Post-TC Heartland

In a case pending in the Eastern District of Virginia, set to start trial on June 12, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Tennessee following the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, No. 16-341, 2017 WL 2216934 (U.S. May 22, 2017).  The district court ordered expedited briefing on the issue and ultimately determined that the defendants had waived their right to challenge venue.  In particular, according to the district court, “TC Heartland does not qualify for the intervening law exception to waiver because it merely affirms the viability of Fourco [Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222, 226 (1957)].” Cobalt Boats, LLC v. Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 15-cv-21, Opinion & Order at 6 (E.D. Va. June 7, 2017).

Because trial is just around the corner for these defendants, they filed an emergency motion to stay the district court case with the Federal Circuit to allow time to file a Petition for Writ of Mandamus (“Mandamus Petition”). On June 8, 2017, the Federal Circuit denied the motion without prejudice to refiling if defendants filed the Mandamus Petition.  Interestingly, however, Judge Newman dissented from the denial, stating unequivocally that TC Heartland “was a change in the law of venue.” In re: Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 17-124, Dkt. No. 4 at 3 (Fed. Cir. June 8, 2017) (Newman, J., dissenting).  Judge Newman explained that “[t]he processes of law are designed not for the convenience of judges, but as safeguards to litigants and warders of justice.” Id. at 4.  Because the change in law “bring[s] the propriety of the current venue directly into question,” Judge Newman believed a stay of the underlying trial was appropriate. Id.

On the morning of June 9, 2017, the defendants filed their Mandamus Petition and renewed their emergency motion to stay the trial.

Copyright 2017 K & L Gates

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Jason A. Engel, Registered Patent Attorney, KL Gates, Law Firm
Partner

Jason A. Engel is a registered patent attorney with an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. He concentrates his practice on the litigation of intellectual property matters with a focus on patent litigation and patent office litigation. He has substantial experience before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in federal district courts across the country, and with Section 337 investigations in the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Mr. Engel is experienced in all aspects of litigation, including discovery, motion practice, claim...

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Devon C. Beane, Intellectual Property Lawyer, Patent Litigator, KL Gates, Law Firm
Associate

Devon Beane is an intellectual property lawyer concentrating her practice on patent litigation, appellate litigation, post-grant practice at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, patent licensing, and client counseling. She has a bachelor of science in chemistry.

Ms. Beane is experienced in all phases of patent litigation, including fact and expert discovery, witness preparation, discovery and dispositive motion practice, claim construction practice, and trial and post-trial proceedings. Ms. Beane is also experienced in all phases of Federal Circuit appeals, including initial filings, motion practice, substantive briefs, en banc proceedings, and hearing preparation.

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