Apple Shanks Patent Trolls In Texas By Closing Stores In Eastern District
Device makers of all sorts have had to fight patent trolls in courts in the Eastern District of Texas where judges are much more friendly to the plaintiffs than to the defendants in patent cases. Courts in the Eastern District of Texas became a playground for patent trolls going back a decade. Apple has been tied up in suits in this judicial district in the past, and Cupertino has had enough.
Apple Stores in Plano and Frisco, Texas are taking one for the team, and the stores will be shuttered permanently. The reason is that those two stores lie in the Eastern District and by not having stores in that district, Apple has foiled anyone trying to bring patent cases against it in the favorable courts. MacRumors reports that U.S. law states that patent infringement suits have to be filed "where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business."
By closing the stores in the Eastern District, Apple no longer has an established place of business there. Other than having locations in the district, the law says that a corporation only resides in the state of its incorporation, which is California in Apple's case. Speculation is that with no more stores in the Eastern District of Texas, all patent infringement cases will be heard in Northern California or Delaware.
As for why the courts in East Texas are so favorable to patent holders, a paper published by the SMU Dedman School of Law says it has to do with experienced judges, lower probability of cases being transferred to other districts, and quicker jury verdicts. Apple isn't abandoning the eastern section of Texas; it will open a store at the Galleria Dallas mall, which is in a different judicial district. Reports indicate the new store will open in the Dallas Galleria on April 13, the other two stores in the Eastern District will close on April 12. Apple has offered all employees at the two closing locations transfers, work from home jobs, or severance packages.