Why East Texas Judges Just Gave Patent Holders Incentives To Sue More Companies...

from the interpretations-on-transferring-cases... dept

Earlier this year, we noted that the judges in East Texas were actually transferring some patent lawsuits out of the court, following a ruling from a year ago at the appeals court level (CAFC) telling the district courts to move cases to where they were more "convenient." For a few months, however, various patent attorneys have been saying to keep watching, and that the folks in East Texas, who know they have a good thing going, will come up with ways to keep more cases in their favorite courthouse. And... that appears to be happening. In a few recent rulings in Marshall, Texas, Judge Ward has denied attempts to move the cases to more convenient locations, sometimes challenging the question of whether or not they really were more convenient -- but the reasoning doesn't pass the sniff test.

In a case brought by a patent holder named MHL Tek, who is based in Michigan, against something around a dozen auto manufacturers, Judge Ward denied the transfer, saying that with so many different parties, it made no sense to claim that Michigan (the requested transfer site) was somehow more convenient:
"With regard to defendants, four defendants reside in Germany, three in California, two in Japan, two in South Korea, two in New Jersey, one each in Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia. The Court finds that this district would, in the least, be just as convenient or inconvenient to most of the defendants as the desired transferee District."
So... the plaintiff and at least one of the defendants is based in Michigan (and many of the others have offices there). None of the the parties are based in Texas. But because some of the defendants are based elsewhere, now it's suddenly ok to keep it in East Texas?

What's the likely end result? Any patent holder who wants to make sure a case remains in East Texas should make sure to sue many more companies who are distributed around the country (or the world), just to give judges in East Texas an excuse to keep the case there. That hardly seems to be living up to the spirit of what CAFC intended with its ruling...

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  1. icon
    tijir (profile), 11 Mar 2009 @ 12:38pm

    East Texas

    I am from East Texas, Tyler not Marshall, and you know the blanket statements about the area are getting old. From everything I have seen and read, these cases are only in Marshall. So have a care Mike, let's be a bit more specific than blanketing all of East Texas as a patent hoarders haven. Some of us here think the same thing you do about the patent system.

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