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Judge Gilstrap’s Four-Factor Test

U.S. District Judge, Rodney Gilstrap, the country’s busiest patent judge, took a broad stance on what constitutes a company’s place of business in terms of venue. This is a promising signal for patent owners who want to keep their cases in the Eastern District of Texas after the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland.

Judge Rodney Gilstrap created a four-factor test leading his decisions regarding whether cases will remain in the district. This test takes into consideration whether a business has a retail store in the district in addition to the sales revenue the business has generated in the district. However, no single factor carries more weight than another. The test takes into account all of the circumstances of the case.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, there has been a new emphasis on the “place of business” requirement of the patent venue statute. In this case, the Supreme Court stated that patent suits can only be filed where the accused patent infringer has an established place of business or where it is incorporated. During the weeks after the TCH Heartland decision, the majority of the district court decisions regarding venue were directed towards whether a defendant waived its arguments by not bringing them up sooner. Judge Gilstrap is the first to create a place-of-business test after the TC Heartland decision.

In developing this test, Judge Gilstrap stated that he gathered factors from other court decisions and modernized them, one of them being a 1985 Federal Circuit case- In re: Cordis Corp. Judge Gilstrap wrote: “Regardless of the area of law, a consistent theme among courts is that the technological advances that foster growth and advancement in today’s business world cannot be ignored.”

The first factor of the test takes into consideration whether a business has a physical presence in the district, such as warehouses and retail stores. If the business has employees or independent contractors there, it will also weigh in favor of the business. The second factor determines the extent to which a business demonstrates that it has a presence in the district. The third factor takes into account the benefits the business receives from its presence in the district, including sales revenue. The fourth and last factor examines a business’s targeted interactions with consumers there, such as localized customer support and marketing techniques.

This test is not binding on other district courts or judges within the district. It has yet to be determined whether other courts will chose to use this test or create a test of their own.

For more information, See Law360.



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