Dreaded Patent Trolls Gain Even More Power From East Texas Judges

Certain judges in the Eastern District of Texas have dealt a blow to patent defendants when it comes to fending off patent trolls. Before we get into that, let's talk a moment about Alice v. CLS Bank. That's a case that went to the Supreme Court where it was ruled that abstract ideas implemented on a generic computer are not patentable.

The ruling prompted many patent defendants to file "motions to dismiss" claims of patent infringement based on the Alice decision. More than half of those cases have been won, and apparently that isn't sitting will with some judges in the Eastern District of Texas.

Those judges now require that defendants ask permission to file motions to dismiss early in the case, and further require that they show "good cause" for the permission. The not-for-profile Electronic Frontier Foundation is up in arms over the new requirement, noting that defendants have a clear procedural right to file these kinds of motions.

Don't Mess with Texas

No small matter, a quarter of all patent cases are filed in the Eastern District of Texas, which already requires parties to ask permission to file summary judgment. The EFF says that too goes against the Federal Rules that give parties the right to file.

On top of it all, the Eastern District of Texas limits the procedural rights of parties by requiring them to submit any and all "relevant" information to the opposing party even if they didn't ask for it. That requirement goes against Federal Rules that say courts must take into consideration the costs and burden of turning over materials, versus how relevant it is to do so. But the Eastern District essentially ignores the rule and forces full disclosure regardless of relevancy and cost.

What this all boils down to is added expense for defendants who are trying to fight off patent trolls. That plays right into their hands, allowing patent trolls to more easily emerge victorious against firms that don't have the resources to fight back against unfair claims.