The First District recently held that the district court had personal jurisdiction over a Texas-based company because of that company’s national advertising scheme and small repeat customer base in Illinois. In Schaefer v. Synergy Flight Center, et al., No. 1-18-1779, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant RAM Aircraft, L.P., negligently overhauled, repaired, and tested an aircraft’s left engine and other parts, and that the negligent repair caused the aircraft to crash in Illinois, killing its seven passengers. RAM was a Texas-based limited partnership that predominately made its income by overhauling aircraft engines. RAM performed its work in Texas and had no office or property in Illinois. RAM did, however, advertise in a nationally distributed magazine and Illinois customers historically accounted for 1-2.5% of its revenues.  The particular engine in question was overhauled by RAM in Texas, who shipped it to a company in Indiana, who then shipped it to an Illinois flight center for installation.

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According to Lex Machina’s 2018 Trade Secret Litigation Report, the number of trade secret cases pursued in U.S. federal courts has increased rapidly since the 2016 enactment of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which granted federal court subject matter jurisdiction over claims raised under the Act. Last year provided a number of interesting precedential decisions on various topics within the realm of trade secrets law, many of which will no doubt shape litigation tactics (and expectations) going forward. One decision of particular note came from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals addressed to the issue of whether unjust enrichment claims were entitled to a jury determination.  Although the case did not specifically deal with claims raised under the DTSA, it nonetheless could impact who is entitled to determine certain types of monetary remedies requested in trade secret cases.

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The proverbial hacksaw inside a prisoner’s birthday cake has been supplanted by a new technological trend for bringing contraband into the jailhouse – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”). As early as 2015, a fight broke out at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio when a drone carrying tobacco, marijuana, and heroin crashed into a yard inside the facility. That same year, a drone trafficking hacksaw blades, a cellphone, and Super Glue crashed into a maximum security prison in Oklahoma. Similar plots have been attempted in more than a dozen states nationwide, leading states like North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas to ban drone flights over correctional facilities. Perhaps to save us from another pre-emption fight over UAS operational restrictions, the federal government is now following suit.

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courtThis week, the Federal Circuit resolved three issues left in TC Heartland’s wake. TC Heartland held that 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) uniquely governs venue in patent cases and is not coterminous with the scope of § 1391. The first prong of § 1400(b) creates venue in the judicial district where the defendant resides, which the Supreme Court held to be the state of incorporation for a domestic corporation. But, this begs the question: what about when the state has multiple judicial districts? Also, whose law governs burden under § 1400(b), and where does that burden lie? In the year after TC Heartland, district courts across the country split on these issues.
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Toxic Tort Monitor

March 14, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Precluding a Second Bite at the Apple; Federal District Court Grants Summary Judgment on Basis of Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel
By Tierra Jones

In the interest of justice and courtroom efficiency, res judicata aims to prevent parties

patent law gavelOn February 23, 2018, in In re Silver, the Supreme Court of Texas conditionally granted mandamus relief and vacated the trial court’s order compelling production of emails between an inventor and his non-lawyer registered patent agent. In re Silver, Case No. 16-0682, 2018 WL 1022470 (Tex. February 23, 2018). The court held that a client’s communications with a patent agent, made to facilitate the agent’s provision of authorized legal services to the client, are privileged under Texas Rule of Evidence 503 (attorney-client privilege). The ruling marked the first time a state high court weighed in on the issue.

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Toxic Tort Monitor

January 17, 2018
New Developments
A Review of 2017 Personal Jurisdiction Decisions
By Taylor Concannon

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court in cases such as BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California continued the trend that began in Goodyear and Daimler and reaffirmed its limits on personal jurisdiction

PatentThe doctrine of patent venue continues its rapid evolution after the Supreme Court’s recent decision TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017).  In TC Heartland, the Supreme Court upended decades of established precedent that allowed for broad assertions of venue in patent cases and found that for purposes of the specific patent infringement venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), a domestic corporation resided only in the state under whose laws it was incorporated. TC Heartland is expected to greatly reduce the volume of patent litigation brought in the Eastern District of Texas, a fast-track venue that has found great favor amongst patent assertion entities.

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Product Liability Monitor

July 14, 2017
New Developments
Rats! Eco-Friendly Soy-Based Insulation Could Spell Trouble Down the Road
By Sarah Rashid

A new “eco-friendly” biodegradable material used to insulate wiring in newer cars could make for trouble — and lawsuits — down the road for car manufacturers. This insulation is made from soybeans, making it more environmentally friendly

Over the past few years, we have been reporting on the full frontal assault against patent assertion entities (PAEs), pejoratively referred to as patent trolls in blog posts in troll tollMay 2014, July 2014 and December 2014. Actions to curb these perceived pariahs of the US economy have come from nearly every angle of attack including the White House, Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and all the way down to various state houses. Although much has happened on many of the fronts we have previously reported, much has stayed the same. We thought now would be a good time to reflect over the last year’s activities to see if the strategy of patent litigation as a business is truly nearing its demise.

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