| WASHINGTON, March 27
WASHINGTON, March 27 The U.S. Supreme Court on
Monday struggled over whether to upend nearly 30 years of law
governing patent lawsuits that critics say allows often-baseless
litigants to sue in friendly courts, giving them the upper hand
over high-technology companies such as Apple Inc and
Alphabet Inc's Google.
The justices heard an hour of arguments in an appeal by
beverage flavoring company TC Heartland LLC to have a patent
infringement suit brought against it by food and beverage
company Kraft Heinz Co moved from federal court in
Delaware, where it was filed, to Heartland's home base in
Indiana. TC Heartland is challenging a lower court ruling
denying a transfer to Indiana.
Even though the case did not involve a lawsuit filed in
Texas, the arguments involved the peculiar fact that the bulk of
patent litigation in the United States is occurring in a single,
rural region of East Texas, far from the centers of technology
and innovation in the United States.
Critics have said the federal court there has rulings and
procedures favoring entities that generate revenue by suing over
patents instead of making products, sometimes called "patent
The outcome of the TC Heartland case could be profoundly
felt in the East Texas courts. The justices could curtail where
patent lawsuits may be launched, limiting them to where a
defendant company is incorporated and potentially making it
harder to get to trial or score lucrative jury verdicts.
TC Heartland is a subsidiary of Heartland Consumer Products
(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)