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Top Patent Cases of 2017

Supreme Court: Patent Infringement Lawsuits Only in State of Incorporation or Regular Place of Business

The Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision (it does happen) TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Food Group Brands LLC. The Court found that a plaintiff must bring patent infringement suits in the defendant’s state of incorporation or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business. This holding overturns almost 30 years of precedent in the federal courts and should put an end to the odd popularity of geographically inconvenient districts like the Eastern District of Texas.

Supreme Court: No Laches Defense in Patent Infringement Actions

Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights. This is a legal maxim that speaks to fairness, and in the courts, the maxim finds its roots in the equitable defense of laches.

The Supreme Court’s 7-1 SCA Hygeine Products AKT vs. First Quality Products, LLC (S. Ct. 2017) decision considered whether laches could be used as a defense when 7 years had passed from when a party first received notice of potential infringement and the date a patent owner filed an infringement complaint. Returning to the maxim, the Court concluded that “Laches cannot be interposed as a defense against damages where the infringement occurred within the [statute of limitations].”

En banc Federal Circuit OKs Amending Patents in AIA Post Grant Proceedings

The En Banc Federal Circuit gave patent owners a win late this year, shifting the burden of proof to patent challengers in Post Grant Proceedings in In Re Aqua Products, Inc. Before Aqua Products, patent owners bore the burden of proof to show that their amendments were unpatentable; now, challengers must show that such amendments are not patentable. This shift tips the scale in favor of patent owners and is a win for parties subject to post grant challenges.
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