From 1970 through the 1990?s, litigation in East Texas was plentiful for personal injury attorneys in the district. In the late 1990?s after the passage of tort reform in Texas which set a cap on punitive damages, the number of personal injury cases on the dockets of East Texas Courts plummeted. But soon, East Texas litigators were again busy when dockets of the Federal Courts began to fill with patent cases. In fact, in September 2006, a New York Times article entitled “So Small a Town, So Many Patent Suits” brought national fame to patent litigation in Marshall, Texas, home to one of the East Texas U.S. District Courts. Now, it seems, because of a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the patent litigation which blossomed after the turn of the new century may be wilting.
That significant decision is In re TS Tech USA Corp. et al., in which the Federal Circuit issued a writ of mandamus to the U.S. District Court in the small town of Marshall, the birthplace of East Texas patent litigation. The Federal Circuit held that the East Texas district court ?clearly abused its discretion in denying transfer of venue of the TS Tech case [from the Eastern District of Texas] to the Southern District of Ohio.? The TS Tech decision has diminished the appeal of the Eastern District of Texas as the go-to jurisdiction for patent litigation plaintiffs and will give support for defendants sued in the Eastern District to seek transfer of their cases elsewhere.