If You're An East Texas Company, Are You Now More Prone To Patent Infringement Lawsuits?

from the watch-out dept

Joe Mullin has an interesting story, questioning why PubPat -- a group that has fought against bad/questionable patents and bad patent policy -- appears to be working closely with a guy who fits the classic definition of a "patent troll" and who just sued Google, Yahoo, MySpace, PayPal, Amazon, Match.com, and AOL over a patent (5,893,120) for storing and retrieving data using a hashing technique.

However, what I actually thought was a lot more interesting is buried a bit down in the article. Beyond suing those seven big name internet companies, the lawsuit also included "the world's largest futures exchange, CME Group, and two software companies located in the Eastern District of Texas." Which two software companies? Softlayer Technologies and CitiWare Open Source Technologies -- both of which look like web hosting/data center type places with some additional services/software included. Heard of 'em? Probably not. Mullin speculates reasonably that the two companies may have been added as a strategy to fight off any attempt to change the venue outside of East Texas.

As you may have noticed, with courts getting a bit more leeway in moving such cases, a few have been moved out of East Texas -- especially when none of the parties involved are really based there. So, now, the patent holders who so love filing there are coming up with new strategies, including suing a whole bunch of different companies so they can argue that Texas is "centrally located" or equally as (in)convenient for everyone. Yet, you have to imagine that with a couple of companies located in East Texas, they'll be able to make an even stronger case against moving the case. So, if you're a tech company that's actually based anywhere in East Texas, you may now have a really big target on your back in patent lawsuits, effectively acting as an anchor to keep the case located there.

Filed Under: east texas, lawsuits, patents


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  1. identicon
    Michael L. Slonecker, 26 Jun 2009 @ 6:59am

    Something seems quite strange here merely from perusing the complaint filed with the court. Beyond its naming numerous parties as defendants, and beyond its unusually casual recitation of actionable items (under our federal system it is sufficient to use "notice pleading", but this on its face appears to fall far short of the mark), the "Prayer for Relief" provides in pertinent part:

    29. that the Court award a compulsory future royalty;

    This is not to my knowledge a remedy that a court is empowered to grant under Title 35. Past damages, damages through the period of a lawsuit, pre and post-judgement interest, attorney fees, injunction? Yes, under certain circumstances these are possible remedies.

    But...a compulsory license? This is news to me.

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