In the ongoing patent infringement claim involving our client, Tinnus Enterprises LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied Telebrands Corp.’s motion to dismiss the case. The Federal Circuit rejected Telebrands’ claim that Texas is an improper venue, essentially affirming a lower court’s finding that the toy maker had forfeited its venue defense through previous litigation. The ruling is not intended to set a CAFC precedent, however, as it only pertains to the facts in this case.
The case is centered on a patent covering the Bunch O Balloons toy developed by inventor Josh Malone. The product basically fills multiple water balloons at the same time and it has proven to be a huge commercial success. In March 2017, Tinnus filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Telebrands over its Easy Einstein Balloons product, which also fills multiple water balloons simultaneously.
In the ruling at hand, the panel denied Telebrands’ petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to dismiss the suit on the basis that the Eastern District of Texas was not the proper venue. Telebrands appealed to the Federal Circuit after a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas adopted a magistrate judge’s reasoning by finding that Telebrands waived its venue objections in prior disputes related to the balloon filling patent.
In March, the magistrate judge ruled that venue was proper because Telebrands had paid for retail space in the Eastern District, which acted as a regular and established place of business. The magistrate judge also ruled that this case was a continuation of numerous proceedings related to the patent infringement case in which Telebrands failed to assert any valid venue objections before trial.
In petitioning the Federal Circuit, Telebrands argued that the venue decision was contrary to the court’s previous decision in In re Cray, a ruling that defined a place of business for patent venue purposes. The panel disagreed, however, writing that “Telebrands’ request for relief can be addressed on appeal by this court after a final judgment is reached in the case.”
The court also noted its reluctance to interfere with the district court’s findings in the case, citing the lower court’s discretion in waiver determinations.
The Federal Circuit decision comes on the heels of a number of rulings that have gone against Telebrands in this matter in both the district court and the CAFC. If nothing else, this case highlights how pursuing a successful patent infringement claim requires the advice and counsel of experienced intellectual property attorneys.