Remote Work and Patent Venue

by Dennis Crouch

In re Monolithic Power Systems, Inc., — F.4th — (Fed. Cir. 2022)

In a 2-1 decision, the Federal Circuit has denied Monolithic’s petition for writ of mandamus seeking to escape from Judge Albright W.D. Tex. courtroom for improper venue.  Since MPS is a Delaware Corp., the only way venue is proper in W.D. Tex. is if it “has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.”  28 U.S.C. § 1400(b).  The company has employees, and various sales-channels within the district, but argues that it lacks a “regular and established place of business.”  As an alternative to its improper venue argument, MPS also argued that venue is inconvenient under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and that the case should instead be transferred to N.D. Cal.

Judge Albright denied the motions to dismiss/transfer — holding that the “regular and established place of business” prong of the 1400(b) test was satisfied by three key findings:

  1. MPS employed local engineers and sales managers in WDTX to serve local customers;
  2. MPS stored property in WDTX (in the homes of its employees) and that equipment was used to service MPS’s WDTX customers, and
  3. MPS continually maintain a physical presence within WDTX, including by advertising for replacement employees should any of MPS’s existing WDTX employees leave the company or move to a new location.

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