04 July 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Drop in litigation at Eastern District of Texas

The share of patent disputes seen at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has dropped by 50 percent in the first half of 2017, according to a report from defensive patent aggregator Unified Patents.

The shift follows several dramatic patent decisions at the US Supreme Court that have made it more difficult for patent litigants, including its decision to curb venue shopping in TC Heartland v Kraft Foods.

Patent disputes have continued in a general downward trend in the first half of 2017, with a 4 percent drop compared to the same period in 2016.

With respect to venue post-TC Heartland, Unified Patents says there has been a huge shift of cases from the notorious US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to the District court for Delaware.

While Texas remains the most popular patent dispute venue, the share of cases filed at the court fell by 50 percent after TC Heartland, from 34 percent to 17 percent. Delaware’s share of the caseload almost doubled, from 13.5 percent to 23.6 percent, and the Northern District of California also saw gains in litigation.

The report also identified sustained activity from non-practicing entities, which accounted for nearly 90 percent of all new high-tech litigation.

Despite the overall decrease in patent disputes, new applicants at the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) increased by 16 percent in the first half of 2017.

The PTAB has received more new petitions so far in 2017 than in any previous six month period.

In June, Unified Patents predicted a 69 percent decrease in filings in Texas as a result of the TC Heartland decision, which would still have only dropped the court down to the second-most popular district court venue for patent litigation.

As of the end of the first half of 2017, Texas remains the most popular district court venue for patent litigation, but Unified Patents said “fluctuations should be anticipated due to the short time that has passed since the decision”.

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