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University of Miami Business Law Review

Article Title

Fixing Forum Selling

Document Type

Article

Abstract

“Forum selling” is jurisdictional competition intended to attract litigants. While consensual forum selling may be beneficial, non-consensual forum selling is harmful because it encourages jurisdictions to adopt an inefficient pro-plaintiff bias. In the last 20 years, the Eastern District of Texas has adopted an aggressive and remarkably successful policy of non-consensual forum selling in patent infringement actions. In 2016, 44% of all patent infringement actions were filed in the Eastern District of Texas, and 93% of them were filed by patent assertion entities or “patent trolls.”

In December 2016, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in TC Heartland v. Kraft, to consider the definition of corporate residence for the purpose of patent venue. If the Court adopts the narrow definition suggested by TC Heartland, it would effectively prevent the Eastern District of Texas from engaging in non-consensual forum selling in patent infringement actions. However, it could also unduly restrict patent venue. This Article argues that the Court could stop non-consensual forum selling in patent infringement actions by requiring district courts to decide motions to transfer venue before deciding any other motions or entering any substantive orders. This would prevent non-consensual forum selling by making it impossible for a district to offer bias as a salient incentive to marginal plaintiffs, and it would make litigation more efficient by ensuring that actions reach the appropriate district as quickly as possible.

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