David Yates Nov. 9, 2015, 3:31pm


A host of retailers, online pioneers and tech developers are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to revisit a 25-year old ruling that enabled patent lawsuits to be filed in known plaintiff-friendly districts, such as East Texas and the District of Delaware.

In January 2014, Kraft Foods filed suit against TC Heartland in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, alleging the Indiana-based retailer had infringed upon several of its patents.

Under the U.S. Code: Title 28, Kraft maintained jurisdiction was proper in Delaware because Heartland sold products in the state.

Court records show Heartland sought to transfer the litigation to Indiana but was shut down, prompting the company to submit a petition for writ of mandamus with the Federal Circuit on Oct. 23.

Two weeks later, on Nov. 6 Google and many more filed an amicus brief in support of Heartland, seeking to overturn the court’s 1990 ruling in VE Holding v. Johnson Gas Appliance, which essentially reinterpreted the corporate venue provision of the Judicial Improvements and Access to Justice Act.

Aside from Google, the other companies and organizations attached to the amicus brief include: Adobe, Asus, Demandware, Dropbox, Ebay, HP, HTC America, Interactive Corp, Intuit, L Brands, Lecorpio, Linkedin, Macy’s, Newegg, North Carolina Chamber, North Carolina Technology Association, QVC, Sap America, SAS Institute, Symmetry, Vizio and Xilinx.

In its suit, Kraft alleges Heartland’s manufacture and sale of liquid water enhancer products infringes several of its patents.

On appeal, Heartland maintains that 98 percent of Kraft’s claims arise from non-Delaware transactions.

As of Nov. 9, the amicus brief was locked and not able to be viewed online. 

Heartland is represented in part by James Dabney, attorney for the New York law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed.

John Vandenberg of the Oregon firm Klarquist Sparkman is counsel for amici curiae.

Case No. 16-105

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