315 U.S. 561 (1942), 321, Stonite Products Co. v. Melvin Lloyd Co.

Docket Nº:No. 321
Citation:315 U.S. 561, 62 S.Ct. 780, 86 L.Ed. 1026
Party Name:Stonite Products Co. v. Melvin Lloyd Co.
Case Date:March 09, 1942
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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315 U.S. 561 (1942)

62 S.Ct. 780, 86 L.Ed. 1026

Stonite Products Co.

v.

Melvin Lloyd Co.

No. 321

United States Supreme Court

March 9, 1942

Argued February 10, 1942

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. Venue in patent infringement suit is governed exclusively by Jud.Code § 48, which provides that, in such suits, the District Courts hall have jurisdiction in the district of which the defendant is an inhabitant, or in any district in which the defendant shall have committed acts of infringement and have a regular and established place of business. P. 563.

In a suit for patent infringement brought in one of two districts in the same State, an individual who has no regular and established place of business in that district and who is an inhabitant of the other district cannot properly be joined as a defendant.

2. The provision of Jud.Code § 52 permitting suits, not of a local nature, against two or more defendants residing in different judicial districts within the same State to be brought in either district is inapplicable to patent infringement suit. P. 566.

119 F.2d 883 reversed.

Certiorari, 314 U.S. 594, to review a decree which reversed the action of the District Court in dismissing, as to one of two defendants, a bill alleging infringement of a patent. 36 F.Supp. 29. The other defendant defaulted.

MURPHY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE MURPHY delivered the opinion of the Court.

The only question presented for our determination is whether Section 48 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 109, is the sole provision governing the venue of patent infringement litigation, or whether that section is supplemented

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by Section 52 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 113. Section 48 gives jurisdiction of suits for patent infringement to the United States district courts in the district of which the defendant is an inhabitant or in any district in which the defendant shall have committed acts of infringement and have a regular and established place of business. Section 52 permits suits, not of a local nature, against two or more defendants residing in different judicial districts within the same state to be brought in either district.1

Petitioner, Stonite Products Company, an inhabitant of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania without a regular

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and established place of business in the Western District of that State, was sued jointly with Lowe Supply Company, an inhabitant of the Western District, in the Western District for infringement of Patent No. 1,777,759 for a boiler stand. Petitioner was served with process in the Eastern District, entered a special appearance in the action in the Western District, and moved to dismiss or quash the return of service because venue was laid in the wrong district. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the cause as to petitioner.2 36 F.Supp. 29. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. 119 F.2d 883. We granted certiorari because of an asserted conflict with Motoshaver, Inc. v. Schick Dry Shaver, Inc., 100 F.2d 236.

We hold that Section 48 is the exclusive provision controlling venue in patent infringement proceedings.

Section 48 is derived from the Act of March 3, 1897, c. 395, 29 Stat. 695, and its scope can best be determined from an examination of the reasons for its enactment.

Section 11 of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789, c. 20, 1 Stat. 79, permitted civil suits to be brought in the federal courts against a person only in the district of which he was an inhabitant or in which he was found at the time of serving the writ. That section applied to suits for patent infringement. Chaffee v. Hayward, 20 How. 208, 216; Allen v. Blunt, 1 Blatchf. 480, Fed.Cas.No. 215. The Act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, 18 Stat. 470, retained the provision allowing suit wherever the defendant could be found. The abuses engendered by this extensive venue prompted the Act of March 3, 1887, c. 373, 24 Stat. 552, which as amended by the Act of August 13, 1888, c. 866, 25 Stat. 433, permitted civil suits to be instituted only in the district of which the defendant was an inhabitant, except

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that, in diversity jurisdiction cases, suit could be started in the district of the plaintiff's or the defendant's residence. The substance of...

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