Pick Your Registered Agent Carefully

Domestic companies incorporated in the state of Texas (and other multi-judicial district states) accused of patent infringement have an additional tool in their venue arsenal. The Federal Circuit ruled last week in In re BigCommerce that a domestic company incorporated in a state having multiple judicial districts (such as Texas) “resides” for purposes of the patent venue statute only in the single district within that state where it maintains a principal place of business, and if it does not maintain a “principal place of business” in the state, in the judicial district where its registered agent is located. The decision also provides direction on what constitutes a company’s “principal place of business.” In this case, the defendant accused of patent infringement maintained its principal place of business in the Western District of Texas. This case originated from litigation filed in the Eastern District of Texas.

This is an interesting decision because under the facts of the case it appears the Federal Circuit did not have to include the registered agent aspect in its test. Many companies retain an outside company to act as its registered agent. This part of the Court’s ruling suggests that a company incorporated under Texas law (but not having its principal place of business in Texas) that is concerned about being sued for patent infringement in Texas, such as East Texas, may be able to impact venue through its choice of its registered agent.