Patent filings plummet in Eastern District
From Staff and Wire Reports
April 20, 2016 at 11:51 p.m.
After a record-breaking year for patent case filings in 2015, federal courts in the Eastern District of Texas have experienced a nearly 50 percent drop in new patent infringement claims so far this year.
According to Docket Navigator Analytics, 287 new patent cases were filed in the Eastern District between Jan. 1 and March 31 — a drop of nearly half from the 543 new patent cases during the first quarter of the previous year. All of last year, a record 2,591 new cases were filed.
While several factors have played a role in the decline, much of it can be traced to a ruling handed down by Judge Rodney Gilstrap in September. It eliminated nearly 10 percent of his docket by dismissing 168 cases filed by eDekka, a Plano-based non-practicing entity, for pursuing ineligible patent claims in his court. Gilstrap later ruled eDekka had pursued an "obviously weak patent" for the purpose of extracting "nuisance value settlements" from numerous defendants and ordered that eDekka pay $390,000 in attorney fees to 24 separate defendants for troubling them with the claims.
"Judge Gilstrap's ruling certainly has caused many patent holders to rethink which cases to file and where, particularly since the ruling came out of the Eastern District of Texas," says patent litigator Michael C. Wilson, a partner at Dallas' Munck Wilson Mandala. It "made clear that non-practicing entities and other patent holders must carefully consider those types of validity issues before filing an infringement lawsuit."
Another reason plaintiff filings may have dropped in the Eastern District is many of them filed claims in the Eastern District late in 2015 — just ahead of a new federal patent rule that went into effect in December that forces plaintiffs to file more specific pleadings.
Plaintiffs filed 710 patent cases in the Eastern District between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.