Apple bolting from Eastern District of Texas, venue a favorite of patent trolls

By David Yates | Mar 5, 2019

MARSHALL – Last year alone, a total of eight patent lawsuits were brought against Apple in the Eastern District of Texas – a hotspot for infringement litigation and home to numerous patent trolls.

Now, it seems Apple is looking to escape the venue, as Tech Crunch recently reported that Apple confirmed rumors that it is shutting down stores within the district’s borders.

So how does pulling up stakes protect the tech giant?

On May 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found in favor of TC Heartland, an Indiana-based company that argued Kraft Foods should not have been allowed to file suit in Delaware – another hotspot for patent litigation.

The ruling keeps patent suits confined in districts where the defendant is incorporated or has an established place of business.

By closing up shop in East Texas, Apple could possibly avoid litigating future patent suits in the district. 

The impact from the TC Heartland decision has certainly been measurable, causing the venue once crowned as the “Rocket Docket” to crash back to earth.

In 2018, more than 500 patent lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District, a dramatic drop from 2017 – a year that welcomed around 860 patent lawsuits.

And while 1,360 patent lawsuits filed in two years might seem like a staggering sum, the number fails to exceed the total amount of infringement cases filed in the year prior to the Heartland decision.

In 2016, nearly 1,700 patent lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District, 11 of which were brought against Apple. The following year, around 19 patent complaints named Apple as the primary defendant. 

The number of patent suits brought against Apple in the district each year may only amount to handful in the eyes of some. Still, the venue hasn’t exactly been kind to Apple.

Just last April, an Eastern District jury hammered the tech giant with a $500 million verdict for patent infringement. 

Apple plans to shut down its stores in Plano and Frisco next month. Customers in the region can still shop at a new store opening at the Galleria Dallas Shopping Mall, which is outside of the district.    

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Organizations in this Story

Apple Inc. Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas

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