Apple Shutting Down Stores In East Texas To Avoid Patent Trolling Cases In The Troll's Favorite Docket
from the oddities-of-patent-law dept
For nearly fifteen years, we’ve written about how patent trolls love East Texas, and spent years building an entire industry in some small Texas towns centered around patent trolling, and dragging companies from all over into east Texas to face lawsuits. Almost two years ago, we were pretty thrilled to see the Supreme Court slam the door on the most blatant jurisdiction shopping by patent trolls in the TC Heartland case. And while some of the East Texas judges have tried to come up with creative ways to reinterpret the Supreme Court’s ruling, so far that hasn’t worked that well.
Still, a key aspect of the TC Heartland case was that the proper venue was the judicial district where a company actually “resides,” which the Supreme Court suggested is where the company was incorporated and not just where it sold products. However, in that appeals court ruling mentioned above, interpreting part of the TC Heartland ruling, the Federal Circuit noted that there “must be a physical place in the district” as one part of a larger test. For lots of companies, that’s no big deal, but Apple (a company that faces more than its fair share of patent troll lawsuits) realized it had a problem: while it’s certainly not incorporated or headquartered in East Texas, it does have retail stores there. Or did. The company is shutting those stores down to prevent trolls from using that retail presence to argue East Texas is an appropriate venue.
Oh and just to put an exclamation point on the reason why it did so: it’s opening a new store juuuuuuuuuuuuuuust over the border into the Northern District of Texas. Apple’s not officially commenting on the reason for the closures/openings but… come on. MacRumors created this lovely “rough visualization” that drives the point home pretty clearly:
Not only did the overreach by judges in East Texas lead to the big industry of patent trolling they helped build up start to deflate, some of the blowback may be lots of companies — especially in the tech world — will simply refuse to have any presence in all of East Texas to avoid being an easy target for patent trolls.