How The Eastern District Of Texas Got That Way
May 25, 2016
There is no jail in Marshall, Texas and the federal district court there hears few criminal cases. It does hear a lot of patent cases, however. Last year about a quarter of the new patent cases filed in the United States were heard by a single judge in Marshall. An article on the Motherboard website looks at how one small court in a town with a population of 24,000 became “catnip for patent holders.” The writer (who it should be said wholly accepts the notion that patent trolls are extortionists who “do nothing”) says it’s a convoluted but totally logical chain of events that begins with a Dallas-based company called Texas Instruments. Sometime in the 1980s TI found itself in a predicament, when the market for what were then called “calculators” disintegrated, and it realized it could leverage the many patents it held by suing other companies for infringement. There were reasons why the court in Marshall worked out better for TI than Dallas, and thus was born one of the more unusual dockets in the country.
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