Legal

Supreme Court Pushes Back On Patent Trolls

Patent trolls may have to go back under a bridge.

As Reuters reported Monday, the United States Supreme Court has issued a ruling that makes it tough for patent trolls to file what the newswire termed “dodgy patent cases” in courts deemed friendly, lessening a legal thorn in the side to tech firms, including Apple.

Patent trolls are usually firms that make money by lodging lawsuits over, well, patents.

The decision hinges on a case where TC Heartland LLC had been engaged in legal wrangling with Kraft Heinz, and said that patent suits can be filed in courts that cover the same area in which the defending company is incorporated. That was an unanimous ruling, coming in at 8-0, overturning a U.S. Court of Appeals, which in turn had stated that patent suits can be filed anywhere the defendant’s products are sold.

The Heartland and Kraft dispute traces its genesis to water flavorings. The suit had been filed in Delaware, and Heartland had argued that almost all of its sales came from outside that state.

The newswire said that the ruling will “lessen the steady flow” of litigation that has been filed in a Texas district that has developed the reputation of being “friendly” (in terms of juries and rulings) in such patent suits. Patent trolls have filed as much as 40 percent of their suits in that state.

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