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In re BigCommerce, Inc.

Mandamus Order Confirms That, For Venue Purposes, Principal Place of Business Is in Only One Judicial District

In re BigCommerce, Inc., __ F.3d __, 2018 WL 2207265 (Fed. Cir. May 15, 2018) (Reyna, LINN, Hughes) (E.D. Tex.: Gilstrap) (4 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir issues writs of mandamus addressing patent venue. Mandamus was appropriate to address the district court’s denial of BigCommerce’s venue-based motions to dismiss and (in a separate case) to transfer so as to decide basic and undecided questions important to the law, as per Schlagenhauf, 379 U.S. 104 (1964). The opinion notes that district courts have reached different conclusions about the interpretation of § 1400(b). That the district court had found BigCommerce’s venue defense waived in one of the cases did not preclude review, as there was no waiver in the other case, and the waiver determination in the first case was incorrect. That BigCommerce had not sought reconsideration by the district court also did not preclude mandamus, as reconsideration was probably futile.

The district court erred in reasoning that venue was proper under § 1400(b) against BigCommerce. BigCommerce is a Texas corporation, but has no place of business in the Eastern District of Texas. That BigCommerce maintains a registered office in Austin (Western District of Texas) does not make it a “resident” of the Eastern District for patent venue purposes. “A plain reading of ‘the judicial district’ [in §1400(b)] speaks to venue in only one particular judicial district in the state.” Op. at 7. Fourco, 353 U.S. 222 (1957), is not contradictory, as it “did not address the corporate venue at the district level of granularity.” Op. at 10. Policy arguments calling for more flexibility in patent venue are “best directed to Congress.” Id. at 11. Finally, the opinion reasons that, for corporations with multiple places of business in a multi-district state, venue is proper in the district containing “the place where a corporation’s officers direct, control, and coordinate the corporation’s activities.” Id. at 12. For those corporations where that location is outside their state of incorporation, venue in the incorporating state is “in the district in which its registered office, as recorded in its corporate filings, is located.” Id.

KEYWORDS: PATENT VENUE; MOTION TO DISMISS; MOTION TO TRANSFER; MANDAMUS (YES)