Series on Venue Shopping and the Eastern District of Texas Part 2

BY CCIA Staff
January 15, 2010
The Big Question: Why are so many patent cases brought to Marshall?There are three probable explanations for why cases are taken to Marshall so often: plaintiff-friendly juries, the “rocket docket” and numerous plaintiff- hungry lawyers. Today we’ll just focus on the first reason: how and why plaintiff-friendly juries in the Eastern District of Texas create an ideal situation for non-practicing entities.

Plaintiff-friendly juries

In a September 2006 New York Times article, Julie Creswell wrote that patent holders in the Eastern District of Texas docket win “78 percent of the time, compared with an average of 59 percent nationwide, according to LegalMetric, a company that tracks patent litigation.”  In a 2006 article in the Kansas City Daily Record and republished by Lawyer’s Weekly Dick Dahl reported that of the eight cases that were ultimately decided by a jury in the Eastern District, the jury sided with the plaintiff all eight times!

In addition, juries have a history of awarding huge verdicts to winners.  The odds lead many corporate defendants to attempt to settle before having to set foot in Marshall.

“In April, for instance, a Marshall jury returned a $73 million verdict against EchoStar Communications for infringing the patents of TiVo,” Crewell reports later in that same 2006 New York Times article.  A short time later, this award was trumped by a $133 million dollar verdict in favor of Z4 Technologies in its case against Microsoft and Autodesk, according to Dahl’s article. From 1995 to 2007 the median damage award by Eastern District of Texas juries was approximately $19.7 million dollars, among the highest in the nation, according to an Omega Communications article last year.

Creswll wrote that:

“The success rate for patent holders in Marshall is a great incentive for defendants to settle matters quickly and privately. Since 1991, the Federal District Court in Marshall has held less than half the number of full patent trials as courts in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco.”
Additionally, Dahl wrote that the plaintiff-friendly nature of the juries may also be attributed to the fact that Texas jurors often hold property rights in high regard. Dahl quotes Attorney James P. Bradley as saying that:
“When a patent holder argues that someone is infringing on its property, it’s a message that resonates with Marshall Jurors.”
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the Eastern District of Texas’ “Rocket Docket”.

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