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Patents Electronic Frontier Foundation Government

EFF Asks Appeals Court To "Shut Down the Eastern District of Texas" (arstechnica.com) 67

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge have asked a federal appeals court to make big changes to the rules governing venue in patent cases. The two public interest groups are seeking to file an amicus brief (PDF) which attacks the Eastern District of Texas as being one of the "most notorious situations of forum shopping in recent history." This district has made quite a few appearances on Slashdot; this is one of my favorites.
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EFF Asks Appeals Court To "Shut Down the Eastern District of Texas"

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Throughout the history of civilized peoples, only the excess born of tyrants and brigands yearned for memory in abundance of 640K" -- Charles, Prince of Wales.

  • Not just Texas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:58AM (#50841855)

    The whole justice system should be shut down. It's pretty redundant anyway since the outcome is given by the amount of money spent.

    • Re:Not just Texas (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MerlynEmrys67 ( 583469 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @12:14PM (#50842563)
      When I was in Texas 2 decades ago, there was a study:
      So Texas Judges stand for election - they have to have a reelection fund. They only people willing to pay for a judge to be elected are lawyers who regularly appear before the judge. The study showed that the lawyer that donated the most money to the judges reelection campaign won cases a significant amount of the time.
      I always assumed this was the "Polite" way of bribing the judge. Wonder how big the reelection accounts are for judges in east texas
      • Re: Not just Texas (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 01, 2015 @01:29PM (#50842801)

        The issue here is the federal US District Courts. In the US, federal judges are appointed for life by the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The issue here is not campaign contributions. Federal judges don't have to stand for reelection. Not to say that there aren't other problems at work, but reelection campaigns and campaign contributions are not the problem.

        • They are.

          They just target the president that does the appointing, but the power can still be traced from the judges, through the president, and back out his corporate backers.

        • Not that it's normally worth the effort of replying to an AC, but surely it is relevant that the US is, to the best of my knowledge, the ONLY country that has a public election process or judges. Not to put too fine a point on it, if this "bribery through re-election funds" route is a problem, then it's a problem of America's own making.

          My experiences with East Texas : we used it's courts to increase the payout for families of 14 people killed in one incident at work from just under $2million to approximat

      • Correlation not equal to causation comes to mind here. I wonder if the study accounted for the fact that the best lawyers are probably the ones most likely to make the most money and thus have more money to contribute to campaigns. (And by being the best, they also win more cases.)

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Not conspiratorial enough. This is Slashdot. There must be outrage! And conspiracy...

          Didn't we just see about Texas judges who had dismissed a bunch of patent cases? I don't know if they were in the same district or not but they'd swept something like 160 of them off the board and just a few days before that was an article about another judge doing something similar, both were in Texas as I recall. I wonder if it's just East Texas?

        • Correlation not equal to causation comes to mind here. I wonder if the study accounted for the fact that the best lawyers are probably the ones most likely to make the most money and thus have more money to contribute to campaigns. (And by being the best, they also win more cases.)

          I think the better non-conspiracy interpretation is that lawyers are going to support judges who share their judicial philosophy, and judges will tend to rule in favour of arguments that reflect their judicial philosophy.

          However, even if that is the case and there's no attempt on either side to introduce a bias it should still be stopped.

          For one thing eliminating bias is really tough, it's a very difficult task for a judge to treat the lawyer who gave him a pile of money as fairly as the lawyer who backed t

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you want to know why the media coverage of current US presidential debates is skewed, including with biased presenters, it's because MSNBC, CNN, and other Media companies are the largest donors to Clinton's and Rubio's campaigns. [archive.is]

        This is apparently not only the "polite way" of bribing politicians for more Imaginary Property Rights (which Hillary has been a huge supporter of increasing), but also the way media avoids full disclosure while biasing the elections of "free" nations.

  • Help Wanted (Score:5, Funny)

    by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:59AM (#50841861) Homepage

    Help Wanted:

    An editor who knows how to add relevant links to a posted story.

    Send your resume to Dice Holdings Inc.

  • Netcraft confirms that slashdot is now an echo chamber.

  • Already shutdown (Score:5, Informative)

    by DevilM ( 191311 ) <[devilm] [at] [devilm.com]> on Sunday November 01, 2015 @09:15AM (#50841899) Homepage

    Judge Davis retired... No one is hearing patent cases anymore in the Eastern District of Texas.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Without those briefcases full of cash, he'd surely be on the street eating I know not what; have you even seen the price of catfood lately??

    • Judge Davis retired... No one is hearing patent cases anymore in the Eastern District of Texas.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      It doesn't really matter that it was shut down--what matters is that it demonstrates the problem with forum-shopping, which the EFF is trying to prevent.

      This is further complicated by the fact that The Federal Circuit *can't* overturn its own earlier decisions easily. The three-judge panel on a particular case has to respect the precedents set by an earlier case. So they may be able to weaken or strengthen a case, but they can't really overturn it. (Otherwise the law would depend entirely on which judges

    • That's just plain wrong -- EDTX continues to be the forum for over 40% of all newly-filed patent cases. Yes, Judge Davis recently retired, just like Judge Ward and Judge Folsom before him. But he was one of many, and Judge Gilstrap, Judge Schneider, Judge Clark, and others are still hearing plenty of cases.

  • Actual article link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @09:28AM (#50841935)

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-po... [arstechnica.com]

    With a few seconds editing, this could have been in the summary.

  • by UncleJosh ( 157821 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @01:52PM (#50842899)

    Full text [eff.org] (PDF) of the Amicus Brief is worth reading and not that long. Excerpts "The Eastern District has adopted certain procedural rules that benefit patent owners—particularly those with weak patents and no products—to the detriment of small innovators and those accused of infringement. These rules drive up costs to defendants and work to increase settlement pressure untethered to the merits of a particular claim for patent infringement." and "These rules, although facially neutral, give significant advantages to patent owners with minimal assets, dubious patents or infringement claims, or a goal of extracting undeserved settlements."

    • Some worthwhile reading on this topic is an old comment of mine from 2012 and the exceptionally informative response I received:
      http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

      To summarize the highlights, that particular court is not as bad as everyone here thinks it is, with the statistics indicating that it's roughly on par with the rest of the nation and is far more hostile towards trolls than some other venues. That said, in order to expedite cases and to prevent certain forms of abuses that other courts haven't consi

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