patent protection suits and jurisdiction: why federal court and choosing a venue
If you’re thinking of filing a patent protection suit, it’s best to contact an experienced patent attorney to represent you in court.
Even still, you may be curious as to the procedures your attorney will follow and why, particularly because they’ll mostly likely be filing your suit in federal court.
The idea may seem daunting and intimidating, but there’s a specific reason for it.
Patent law is federal law.
Title 35 of the United States code covers patent law. All patents are registered with the United States Patent Office.
According to 35 U.S.C. §1338, all patent protection suits are a matter of federal law, and may only be heard in federal court because only federal courts have exclusive subject matter jurisdiction.
Subject matter jurisdiction is the authority a court has to hear a case based on what law it covers. State courts don’t have subject matter jurisdiction over most matters of federal law, including patent protection suits.
These should be filed in federal court, regardless of which states any of the parties reside or do business.
…but you can’t file in just any district court.
All federal district courts handle matters of federal law, but you can’t file in just any federal court, because personal jurisdiction and venue matter, too.
If you’re in Chicago and the defendant is in New York, you probably can’t file your patent suit in Honolulu, even if it’s winter and you think you could both use a break from the cold weather.
Personal jurisdiction is a court’s authority to hear a case based on residency or contacts within a state.
Residing in a state, doing business in a state, and having ongoing contacts in a state are indications that a party submits to the jurisdiction of the state. If you or the defendant has no contacts or business in Hawaii, you may be stuck filing in a court closer to home.
The venue, or particular court in a state, is important, too. The venue may be the area within a federal district. For example, if you file suit in Illinois, you file suit in the 7th federal district. There are three districts in Illinois: Northern, Central, and Southern. If you’re in Chicago, the venue is the Northern district.
Choosing the wrong jurisdiction or venue may mean that your opponent can move to dismiss your case or move to transfer the case to a more convenient forum.
An experienced patent attorney knows how to choose the most appropriate court to file a patent protection suit.
If you are concerned about where you may need to file in order to protect your rights as a patent holder, we invite you to contact our patent attorneys at (512) 649-1046 to schedule a consultation.
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