"If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell"

by Lee Gesmer on November 14, 2007

This quote, attributed to General Phillip Sheridan in 1868, describes how many patent defendants feel about Texas, and particularly Marshall, Texas, which has become a patent litigation black hole, sucking in unwilling defendants from around the nation.

A blog, titled the Patent Troll Tracker, closely follows events in Marshall. Here is an abbreviated excerpt from a recent post concerning patent litigation in Marshall:

This is really the year of the patent troll. Last year, approximately 6,000 defendants were sued nationwide in about 2,800 patent cases. This year, the 6,000th defendant was sued sometime in early October. With the number of cases up nationwide probably 5% over last year, we’re still projected for at least a 30% increase in the number of defendants sued. More on that data in a later post.

Why? It’s because of the numerous multi-defendant patent litigation cases being brought by non-practicing entities and patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas. . . .

Think about it. When else in our nation’s history have we experienced a 30+% increase in the number of patent claims in one year?

Now think about why we are currently experiencing this extreme uptick in patent litigation. It’s simple: patents, at least in the eyes of the market, are overvalued right now. Damages are being awarded in patent cases without basis in reality, and out of proportion to the actual value of the invention. . . . Settlements are being squeezed by plaintiffs filing primarily in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions like the Eastern District of Texas, where, despite the efforts of some to paint it to the contrary, the juries typically side with the patentee, and the judges rarely grant summary judgment, and when they do, it’s on the eve of trial. . . .

Do you want more evidence that the Eastern District of Texas is fueling this large increase? Right now, there have been over 1,250 defendants sued in the district through the first 10 months of 2007 . . . . Extrapolating, there will likely be 1,500 defendants sued in the Eastern District of Texas this year. That’s as many as were sued in all of 1990, in the entire United States.

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