The Northern District of California Shoots to Second Place After TC Heartland

It’s been just over two weeks since the Supreme Court decision in TC Heartland.  (For a summary of the opinion and its implications, click here.)  As plaintiffs and the courts now struggle to deal with venue in patent cases (and patent litigators brush up on venue law), we looked at recent filings to see what effect the decision had on where patent complaints are being filed.  Using data obtained from Docket Navigator, we compared filings in the sixteen days since TC Heartland came down on May 22 with filings earlier this year between March 1-May 21. 

With the caveat that we are looking at a very small sample size, some trends are becoming apparent.  The ranking of the top 10 jurisdictions based on percentage of patent cases filed has changed dramatically in the days post-TC Heartland versus the months immediately preceding the decision.  In the preceding months, the Northern District of California was the 6th most frequent jurisdiction for patent litigation with 4.1% of all filed cases.  Since TC Heartland, it is now the second most frequent jurisdiction with 11.3% of all new patent cases:


March 1, 2017 to May 21, 2017 May 22, 2017 to June 7, 2017
1 E.D. Tex. 30.6% 1 D. Del. 16.4%
2 D. Del. 12.2% 2 N.D. Cal. 11.3%
3 C.D. Cal. 7.8% 3 N.D. Ill. 10.7%
4 D.N.J. 4.8% E.D. Tex. 10.7%
5 D. Mass. 4.3% 5 C.D. Cal. 6.8%
6 N.D. Cal. 4.1% 6 S.D. Cal. 2.8%
7 N.D. Ill. 2.7% D.N.J. 2.8%
8 S.D. Cal. 2.1% S.D.N.Y. 2.8%
S.D.N.Y. 2.1% 9 N.D. Tex. 2.3%
10 W.D. Tex. 1.9% E.D. Pa. 2.3%


Another recent trend is a slight drop in the average daily number of new patent cases from approximately 16 to 15 cases per day.  Part of this drop may be additional time needed by plaintiffs for establishing facts related to venue and analyzing available jurisdictions for the best fit.  Additionally, plaintiffs may be considering whether they want to file (and incur the costs of filing) in multiple jurisdictions in cases with multiple possible defendants, or reduce their potential defendants to those in limited jurisdictions.  Only time will tell whether this drop in filings is a real drop, or just a momentary blip.