TYLER – Trend Micro won a minor victory in the Tyler Division of the Eastern District of Texas earlier this month when it was successful in requesting a change of venue to the Northern District of Texas.
The patent case was filed by in December 2016 by SecurityProfiling LLC and claims that Trend Micro Inc. and Trend Micro America Inc. infringed upon six patents owned by the company.
Patent cases are common in the Eastern District of Texas and a lot of patent holders file for legal relief through that court, regardless of their physical or business ties to the area. For many years, the Supreme Court allowed this forum-shopping wherein plaintiff’s selected courts most likely to rule in their favor. However, recent rulings have challenged the status quo, and likely lead to the Eastern District judge’s close consideration of the venue change request submitted by Trend Micro.
The Record previously reported that the number of cases heard in the Eastern District Court may be on the decline after a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling put limits on venue shopping for patent litigation cases. Since 2014, the federal court in the Eastern District of Texas handled more than a quarter of all patent cases filed nationwide.
In considering Trend Micro’s request for a change of venue, the court looked first at possible witnesses in the case and whether or not the court would have the power to subpoena them. Federal law only compels witnesses within 100 miles of the court to be required to appear.
With Trend Micro presenting evidence that the case would require records from its office in Irving to be brought to any hearing, the court found that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas would be a more convenient forum. Trend Micro, with its headquarters in Irving, wouldn’t have to travel as far with records, and employees that were likely to subpoenaed would be within the Northern District’s reach.
The court’s move to grant the change of venue may have been due to the admonition of the Supreme Court in another case reported by The Record recently. In re Acer American Corp. (Misc Doc No. 942) the federal circuit admonished the Eastern District of Texas for abusing its discretion and failing to transfer the case out of the district to the Northern District of California.
The Record previously reported that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called for the Supreme Court to clarify the rules on venue shopping, in an amicus brief filed in February of this year.
“The Federal Circuit’s misinterpretation of the patent venue law undermines public confidence in the judicial system and has, as it was once described, turned the Eastern District of Texas into an intellectual property ‘speed trap,’” Paxton said in a February press release. “Patent trolls know full well that the cost of litigating cases there makes it cheaper for many companies to just pay them to go away.”