An April 21 report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts shows that patent infringement filings increased significantly in 2013—particularly in the District of Delaware and our own Eastern District of Texas.
In the Eastern District, patent infringement filings jumped nearly 22 percent, up to 1,533 cases in 2013 from 1,258 filed in 2012. Delaware saw a near 36 percent increase, up to 1,377 cases in 2013 from 1,013 in 2012.
The report indicates that the rise in patent infringement filings is due to the 2011 American Invents Act, which forces patent infringement plaintiffs to sue multiple defendants instead of filing a single multidefendant case.
“We used to have multidefendant cases galore,” says David Maland, clerk of the Eastern District of Texas “And now, instead of one case with 10 defendants, we have 10 cases. It does seem that in recent years, the filings have tended to aggregate in Texas Eastern and Delaware,” he said of the long-popular patent venues.
Part of the Eastern District’s popularity is due to the court’s long-standing, patent-friendly local rules, which streamline deadlines in patent litigation and offer firm trial settings, and the judges’ continuing commitment to innovating those rules, Maland said. That includes the recent “Track B” procedure; it’s an Eastern District rule introduced this year in which litigants can opt to disclose discovery matters earlier in hopes of reducing litigation costs.
“I’m proud of what the court is doing,” Maland said of innovations that seem to attract cases to the docket. The judges have been trying to be innovative by creating rules “in a way that are designed to streamline the court and the process and what the Federal Circuit says about how cases should be managed and tried. And that’s what we’ve been doing,” Maland said.
The innovations also help build the Eastern District as a venue where the judges are experts in trying patent cases, he notes.
“The expertise is attractive,” Maland said. “We know what we’re doing.”