Today's Dallas Morning News has another article on the local patent docket by reporter Jeff Bounds. The article notes that the number of new patent infringement lawsuits filed in the Eastern District of Texas hit another record high during the first six months of 2014, with 912 cases, the 26% increase from the previous record a year earlier. It noted that a disproportionate share of the filings came from a small number of plaintiffs, with almost half of the cases filed by 10 plaintiffs, so the increase may be a short-term aberration.
The article notes that while the district has had a reputation for being pro–plaintiff in intellectual property, but notes that reputation may have outlived reality, and quotes Erich Spangenberg, owner of IP Navigation Group, which is responsible for many ED patent filings in recent years that the Eastern District’s “reputation as wildly plaintiff friendly is just noise." (Something Jeff Saltman and I addressed in article in Texas Lawyer and law.com Who're You Calling Plaintiff-Friendly? in April of this year). Interestingly, Spangenberg was one of only two patent plaintiffs to win a finding of infringement at trial in Marshall last year in ten tries - the other eight infringement trials resulted in defense wins.
While the article doesn't mention our Texas Lawyer article , it does goes on to review other statistics that support that conclusion – a study issued last month by Lex Machina found that plaintiffs won their cases 2.43% of the time while defendants 2.45%, with the rest either settled or dismissed.
Noninfringement & Invalidity most common verdict
And again, one other fact bears mentioning here since I saw a comment recently that noninfringement plus invalidity is rare - the single most common verdict in a patent case asserting infringement and invalidity last year in the Eastern District of Texas - which as I've posted recently tries almost a third of the patent trials conducted nationwide - was a finding of not infringed and claims invalid. In the ten cases where both issues were submitted to a jury in 2013, plaintiffs lost infringement in seven, and both infringement and invalidity in five.
Lack of criminal docket a major factor for popularity
The article quotes me for an underlying reason for the popularity of the district being the low number of criminal cases in certain divisions, especially when compared to federal courts in major cities which can be backlogged with criminal cases, going back to the Texas Instruments patent filings beginning in 1992.
The article also reviews the judges with the largest number of open patent cases in the country noting that three of the top seven are from the Eastern District of Texas, those being Judge Gilstrap (828), Judge Davis (264) and Judge Schneider (138). The other four slots are all Delaware judges, ranging from 428 down to 298.