Megan Woodworth was quoted in the May 25, 2017 issue of The Patent Investor about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Food. The decision is expected to reduce the concentration of nuisance patent infringement lawsuits especially in the perceived patent owner friendly Eastern District of Texas, though it also will increase the number of cases in jurisdictions with much less patent experience. Patent market observers say the impact of the ruling in limiting nuisance suits may be far smaller than many believe because so much has already changed in the patent system to constrain patent holder rights.
Woodworth said that if the statistics cited in the amicus briefs in support of limiting venue were correct then some 70% of cases were filed in the wrong jurisdiction and/or shouldn't have been maintained there. The effect of the TC Heartland decision may be that "plaintiffs will decrease the number of defendants they file against. It is going to be marginal but meaningful."
Asked which jurisdiction was most likely to become the next Eastern District of Texas, Woodworth said, "Delaware is the most likely candidate for that in part because of the large number of corporations that are domiciled there." She also said that historically, statistics have shown it’s harder to get summary judgement in Delaware.
In contrast, Woodworth said the Northern District of California historically has been more defendant friendly. She said it has been more open to early dispositive rulings such as summary judgment. Moreover, the jury pool in the area around Silicon Valley is generally better educated and more comfortable with technology issues.
Woodworth said the clearest sign so far that TC Heartland will have an effect is the dearth of patent infringement actions filed in the Eastern District of Texas since the May 22 ruling.
“It has been three days since the TC Heartland ruling and there have been no filings in the Eastern District of Texas," she said. "I can't remember a three day period like this apart from a holiday."