If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, judges in the Eastern District of Texas must be pretty proud of themselves these days.

Six years ago U.S. District Judge T. John Ward of the Eastern District adopted rules and procedures for his court designed to make patent cases proceed from filing date to trial or settlement more quickly than in other federal district courts. Early scheduling of initial case-management conferences gives lawyers’ clients more certainty on how long cases will take to litigate and how much they will cost. Ward’s rules force the parties to define much earlier in the litigation process what the language of the patents means — which is important when determining whether to settle suits or go to trial, and once the plaintiffs lay out the infringement, they cannot amend those allegations later. All of the Eastern District judges adopted Ward’s patent rules in 2005. As a result of its patent rules, the Eastern District became known across the nation as the place for plaintiffs to file patent litigation.

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