Monday, May 01, 2006

Bloomberg features the patent rocket docket of ED Texas (Marshall)

According to Susan Decker of Bloomberg: Marshall is to patent holders what Hershey, Pa., is to chocolate lovers: the sweetest spot in the nation. Since 1999, the federal district in which Marshall is located has seen a tenfold increase in patent lawsuits, drawn by a fast-moving docket and local rules adopted by U.S. District Judge T. John Ward that seek to streamline even complicated cases. Another attraction: Inventors and other patent owners have won jury verdicts 90 percent of the time since 1994.

Judge Ward is given much of the credit: Much of that activity is thanks to Ward. After he was appointed to the bench in 1999, he required plaintiffs and defendants to immediately turn over relevant information, shortening the time period for pre-trial evidence gathering. He also sanctions lawyers who don't move quickly enough to exchange evidence or who withhold information. And he requires both sides to find claim terms they can agree on, leaving fewer to be disputed in court. "Marshall had one of the fastest dockets going for some period of time," said Steve Akerley of McDermott, Will & Emery in Palo Alto, Calif., who has handled cases in the town.

There is information provided by LegalMetric, a St. Louis-based company that tracks patent litigation. Patent owners won 12 of 15 patent trials from 1994 to March, including 9 out of 10 by jury trial, Upchurch of LegalMetric noted. Nationwide, patent owners win about two-thirds of all jury trials. Two-thirds of cases end in settlement, about the national average.

With the wins for patent owners in the Microsoft and TiVo cases included, the victory rate for jury verdicts since 1994 is 92 percent.

A company sued for infringement can claim as a defense that the invention wasn't really new. [i.e., asserting the patent is invalid under 102 or 103.] Finding a patent invalid can be a hard decision for a juror. Under federal law, a patent is presumed valid unless proved otherwise. Ruling it invalid has the effect of overturning a U.S. government decision. [In the nation generally, invalidity determinations have declined in the last 20 years, but noninfringement determinations have increased.]

Property rights and respect for government resonate particularly strongly in East Texas.

There are other rocket docket districts, such as ED Va. There will be more rocket-docket districts. Already, other courts are looking to pick up some of Marshall's slack. Pittsburgh courts have adopted "aggressive patent rules" that promise to resolve cases quickly and the city offers better local hotels and attractions than eastern Texas, said Rob Lindefjeld of Jones Day in Pittsburgh, a member of the American Bar Association's intellectual-property law group. And, Gerald Schatten, too.

[IPBiz post 1523; May 1, 2006]


Post a Comment

<< Home