So called “patent trolls” helped make the Eastern District of Texas the top spot for patent litigation in 2014, a recent report found.
For the past seven years, the Record has reported on the dozens of patent infringement suits brought by East Texas companies nearly every week in the Marshall and Tyler Divisions of the federal court.
On March 26 Lex Machina, a litigation data mining company out of California, released its second annual Patent Litigation Year in Review report, revealing that the Eastern District became home to 1,425 patent suits in 2014, making the region No. 1 for infringement litigation.
The District of Delaware came in second, with 946 patent suits filed last year. A district court in California finished third, collecting 305 cases.
In 2013, Lex Machina reported 1,495 patent suits were filed in the Eastern District, 248 more than 2012 but also 70 more than last year, meaning there was a 4.9 percent drop in 2014.
Despite the dip, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Marshall Division saw 982 new patent cases land on his docket last year, the most of any district court judge, according to the report.
Court records show Plano “patent trolls” filed the vast majority of the suits for 2014, with the Craig Tadlock Firm in Plano leading the way in handling open cases in the district.
Patent trolls are people or companies that do not manufacture or supply products, but rather seek to enforce patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees.
Overall, more than 5,000 new patent infringement cases were filed in the U.S. for 2014, 1,000 less than 2013, according to the report.
From 2007 to 2010, the number of patent cases in the U.S. ranged from 2,500 to 2,700 a year, with that number jumping to 3,567 in 2011 and 5,435 in 2012.
Hoping to stymie the amount of infringement cases filed, members of Congress, such as Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, are currently working to pass the Innovation Act – a bill aimed changing the rules governing patent infringement lawsuits in an attempt to reduce frivolous lawsuits brought by patent trolls.
Also noteworthy, the soon-to-be retired former chief judge of the Eastern District, Leonard Davis, announced Monday that he was joining Fish & Richardson – a national patent firm with the most open infringement cases, 618, according to the report.