by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
dog park, kevin zilka, patents, texas

Silicon Valley Patent Lawyers Set Up A Dog Park In Eastern Texas To Keep Cases There

from the buying-the-bull dept

One of the big battles in the patent world, as you probably know, involves the convoluted ways in which companies try to file and keep patent lawsuits in the notoriously patent holder-friendly East Texas. A few years ago, the appeals court that hears patent cases reprimanded the East Texas courts and suggested they should be more willing to transfer cases to more reasonable locations.

This has resulted in some games being played by lawyers who want to keep cases in Texas. The popular one is to set up a totally empty office in some of the office buildings that seem to specialize in this kind of thing. That was a nice part of the recent This American Life episode about patents, where reporters Alex Blumberg and Laura Sydell literally went to one such famous building in Marshall, Texas, and knocked on doors to see if anyone actually occupied the offices of "patent troll" companies. Another strategy has been to sue random companies in East Texas along with the real targets. The small East Texas companies are usually dropped from the lawsuit later, but the patent trolls argue that with so many different companies in so many different places, East Texas is as good as any place... especially since at least one infringing company is right there! Of course, one nice thing about the recent patent reform bill is that it likely ends these attempts to bogusly join together unrelated defendants.

Of course, some lawyers go above and beyond such simple tactics. A personal favorite, of course, was the fact that TiVo literally bought a prize-winning bull in Marshall, Texas. Some say it was to influence the jury, but we wonder if it didn't also help establish a "presence" in East Texas.

Along those lines, it's interesting to note that a Silicon Valley lawyer-turned-patent troll, named Kevin Zilka, who has a rather dubious history with filing lawsuits in East Texas, apparently has set up a dog park in East Texas. Once again, the assumption is that this is a rather cynical attempt by Zilka to establish a reason for keeping cases that jurisdiction. Zilka, after all, is the guy who once sued a company four blocks away from his own offices in San Jose... but still filed the case nearly 2,000 miles away in East Texas. I'm sure the dog park is quite nice, but it sure seems like a massively cynical attempt to establish a "presence" for the sake of keeping cases in East Texas.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Richard (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 7:20am


    I know Texas has the right to leave the United States - but does the rest of the United States have the right to kick Texas out? Might fix the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    anonymous, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 7:24am

    dont agree with what has been going on for one minute but if they continue to do this, would a good way be to insist that the law firm(s) concerned has a permanently occupied office and been conducting business from that office for a minimum period of, say 12 months, with a minimum number of cases going on? at least it would give credence to their shenanigans

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    DogBreath, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 7:36am


    It might work, but only as long as they keep their lawyers on leashes in the park and make sure to clean up any "presents" they leave behind. I'm sure no one wants to step in and have to wipe off their shoe, any of that "mess".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Hey lawyers, this is why people hate you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Pixelation, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    I've been waiting...

    I've been waiting for this. I have the patent on dog parks. Now with his residence in East Texas, this guy is toast.

    Patent K-9; a method and system to reduce energy output from from dogs while eliminating the need to pick up their poop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Some Other AC (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 8:28am

    Re: Texas

    Richard, while I understand the sarcasm in your comment, please remember that Texas is the 2nd largest state in land area. Marshall, TX is barely a drop in the bucket for this state. Those of us who actually pay attention to common sense, the many news articles and related information surrounding IP law and it stupidities actually take a very dim view of these hill billies and ignorant backwoods bumpkins. Sad as this following statement it, I have found that regardless of birth place, or actual education achieved, many who have "moved" to the smaller East Texas towns have mysteriously misplaced, been robbed of, or otherwise lost most of their intellectual capacities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    el_segfaulto (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 8:32am

    Re: Texas

    I lived in East Texas while going to grad school and found the experience to be quite positive. I'm as appalled as any other rational person over the idiotic patent trolling occurring there, but I've learned not to judge the rest of the state by the idiocy of a small minority (cough)Rick Perry(cough).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Some Other AC (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Texas

    "but I've learned not to judge the rest of the state by the idiocy of a small minority (cough)Rick Perry(cough)."

    Amen to this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Aerilus, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 8:46am


    This is Texas right were you can stop your truck at a gas station and pick up a load of immigrant employees for the day. the judges must know whats is going on the most effective measure to prevent this blatant favoritism would be to get the judge thrown out but I bet that is pretty close to impossible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Christopher (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Texas

    With all due respect to el_segfaulto and Some Other AC, the fact is that when the Texas people as a whole allow stupid shit like this?

    They are going to get bashed upon for allowing it. Simply put, when they see something like this happening, the PEOPLE should step in and put an end to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Christopher (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re:

    In America? Hell yes, getting a judge thrown out is pretty damned near close to impossible, even outside of Texas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Thomas (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    Just wonder..

    how much money the judges and jurors get when they hand out big verdicts? Do they get a flat flee per case or do they get a percentage?

    Does Texas have anything like a judicial review board? Or a legal ethics board? Or anything remotely resembling honest judges or impartial juries?

    Must be nice to be a juror there and a judge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    The eejit (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Texas

    So east Texas really does eat brains. That...,would explain a lot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Richard can't read, Oct 24th, 2011 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Texas

    Didn't read the article, did you? Let me summarize, using small words (just for you):

    Lawyers use texas law to get around patent law limitations.

    How is this the fault of Texas? I'll bet you're some knee-jerk liberal who feels the need to crap-post on any topic with "Texas" in it. While we're at it, Texas does *not* have the right to leave the US, or they would have done so 100 years ago... though don't blame us if we try again now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    patent litigation, Nov 1st, 2011 @ 11:27am


    The new disjoinder rules in the recently-passed patent reform legislation may help to reduce the scourge of patent trolls. At least Congress is doing something on the issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    onketing, Nov 11th, 2011 @ 12:10am

    Admiring the time and effort you put into your site and detailed information you provide. It's awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same old rehashed material. Excellent read! I've saved your site and I'm including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Joy, Jan 4th, 2012 @ 8:46am

    The process of approving the patents is done legally, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    elev8, Jan 29th, 2012 @ 3:33pm

    Good topic, complete information, Interesting ideas. Thank you,"> Dog clicker training.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Valentine facebook status, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Valentine facebook status

    Let me start with Facebook. Of all the personalised Valentine's gifts I want to see on February 14th, some loved-up status update posted by someone I've not seen in 13 years isn't one of them. Okay, so it's obviously not directed at me and technically there's nothing to stop me ignoring it.

    Article Source:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    topeka (profile), Dec 7th, 2012 @ 9:51am


    Please kick us out.

    Then we can set up our own Patent Office and sue the H1B sucking, parasites in Cali.

    You dipsticks get your panties in a wad whenever anyone tells you to but out of other people's business... but you cry like babies when someone applies the same rules to you.

    You don't like Marshall because the people there think Google is no more cool than Exxon... and maybe less since oil companies pay for what they steal - and what they don't steal.

    None of you low-brows, especially in the Bahhhh Area could handle two days with a chain saw much less a week of pump work in the ET oil fields.

    And I very much doubt you could handle petroleum engineering or range science either.

    Humility breeds respect for others... but

    Familiarity breeds contempt.

    Look forward to seeing you whiners outsourced to Taipei or New Delhi.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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