2017 marked another active year for intellectual property law. Patent law took center stage at the Supreme Court, wherein established precedent on infringement suit jurisdiction and laches were overturned. Of course, no 2017 IP review article would be complete without mentioning the overturning of the ban against disparaging trademarks, a decision destined to cause some very uncomfortable discussions at law firms across the country. As we move into another year that is sure to be full of cases that reshape the IP landscape, we take this opportunity to look back at some of the most significant IP cases of 2017:
1. TC Heartland, LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group, LLC (137 S. Ct. 1514)
In probably the most significant patent-related decision of 2017, the Supreme Court upended decades of precedent that allowed patent litigants to file infringement suits essentially wherever the defendant made sales. The previous view on where infringement suits could be filed created pockets of activity in plaintiff-friendly venues, such as the Eastern District of Texas. In TC Heartland, the Court ruled that an infringement suit can only be brought where the defendant is incorporated or has a regular and established place of business. While lower courts grapple the issue of what constitutes a “regular and established place of business,” statistics already show a noticeable shift away from the Eastern District of Texas and toward federal courts in states such as Delaware.
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