We represent a growing number of foreign entities who are sued for patent infringement in Texas. While they are not subject to the strict venue requirements under TC Heartland and its progeny, they are entitled to be properly served with a summons and copy of the complaint. A recent area of active litigation these days is when and if the foreign entity may be served by alternative means. In this recent decision from Judge Payne in the Eastern District of Texas he granted alternative service where the plaintiff patentee claimed, despite repeated efforts, they could not determine where the defendant was located.
Judge Payne noted that the oft utilized Hague Convention, used for service of process for entities that reside in another country, “does not apply if the address of the person to be served is not known.” Accordingly, plaintiff was allowed to serve the defendant via an email address it discovered and believed was monitored by the defendant. The takeaway: if you have tried and truly cannot find “Waldo”, alternative service is likely to be granted. But, for a known entity, a patentee should still have to make more traditional efforts at service, such as under the Hague Convention.