Ca. Litig. Rev. 2017

Intellectual Property

By Evan Woolley

A Patent Exodus from Texas, Closing Pandora’s Box on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings, and Cannabis Trademarks

2017 witnessed some major developments in intellectual property law of particular interest to California litigators, including a change in patent venue law that should bring more patent cases to California, a march towards a final answer as to whether California common law provides protection to sound recordings that federal copyright law does not, and forays into the next frontier in cannabis trademark legalization.

In TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC1 the United States Supreme Court narrowed the rules for patent venue by holding that, for purposes of section 1400(b) of Title 28 of the United States Code, a corporate defendant "resides" only in its state of incorporation. Subsequent developments in the Federal Circuit confirmed that TC Heartland was a change in the law, and that patent plaintiffs could not rely on an expansive reading of the second prong of section 1400(b) (relating to a "regular and established place of business") to keep patent cases in the popular Eastern District of Texas. California litigators should expect to see more patent cases filed in local district courts.

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