The world of patents is still complicated, despite government changes made in the last few years. With the new rules allowing you to take patent credit for a product based on "first to file", you still may face some challenges. One of those hurdles is patent trolls, something haunting inventors and businesses for many years.
If you're new to what a patent troll is, you need to know how nefarious they are. They do a lot more damage than you maybe know.
Basically, patent trolls obtain patent rights for a particular idea they never intend to use. They’re notorious for targeting vulnerable businesses that have much to lose or little means to defend themselves in the hopes that the “alleged infringer” will pay a settlement (or as we like to say – ransom) to keep the suit from going forward. And in Texas, the Federal Eastern District of Texas has been known as a haven for patent trolls. Till recently anyway!
Venue Shopping and The Future of Patent Litigation in Texas
The Eastern District of Texas has been known as a hot spot for patent litigation. Patent trolls often take part in the practice of forum shopping. In patent infringement litigation, forum shopping (also known as venue shopping) is when litigants have their legal case heard in the court thought most likely to provide a favorable judgment. Some jurisdictions have become known as "plaintiff-friendly" and therefore attract litigation even when there is little or no connection between the suit and the jurisdiction in which the case is heard. Eastern Texas, in particular, is known for having high success rates for plaintiffs in patent infringement cases. Roughly 40 percent of infringement suits have been filed in the district in the last two years. 90% of those suits are brought in by patent trolls too.
Through a recent Supreme Court decision, however, the landscape of patent infringement litigation and the practice of patent troll venue shopping will change dramatically.
Supreme Court Limits Venue Shopping
Earlier this year the Supreme Court made a ruling to place limits on where patent infringement lawsuits get filed. This decision stems from the case involving a company called TC Heartlands that was sued for patent infringement in 2014 by Kraft Foods. In the TC Heartlands vs. Kraft case, Heartlands argued the trial should take place in their home state of Indiana rather than Kraft’s district in Delaware.
- Ted Gelov, Heartland FPG CEO, said, “Individuals and businesses in the U.S. have been unfairly required for decades to defend patent suits in far off locales adding cost, complexity and unpredictably to the intellectual property marketplace. The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Heartland changes that system for the better.”
With the Supreme Court’s decision, targeted companies who want their patent cases to take place in their state of incorporation can do so – potentially lessening the power grip patent trolls have in Texas and across the nation.
Even so, many companies and business will still be a target of the evil patent troll. Their end game is simply money. When it comes to patent infringement defense, you have the power to fight back – and retaining a skilled business litigation attorney with knowledge and expertise to defend against patent trolls may be all that you need.
Fighting Back Against Patent Trolls - Lawyer Up with Hendershot Cowart P.C.
At our Houston Business law firm, we have 26+ years of experience litigating against patent trolls and trust us when we say - we dislike patent trolls as much as you do! We do everything we can to defend you so that nefarious patent trolls do not come back demanding what is, in effect, a ransom. To discuss your case, contact us at (713) 909-7323 or complete an online form 24/7 at your convenience.