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October 18 2015

This Is Legal?

Carrie L. Lukas

In a fair justice system, it shouldn’t matter in which court a case is tried.  If the laws are the same, then they ought to be applied uniformly and the outcomes shouldn’t be radically different in any one court. 

That’s why Americans should recognize something is fishy when there is an outlier court hearing a disproportionate number of a certain kind of case and earning a reputation for issuing a certain ruling. 

As explained in Townhall, that’s exactly what we see when it comes to patent disputes and a Texas court system:

Currently, patent trolls are able to file lawsuits anywhere that the company does business - meaning “in any state in which its products or services are available” - regardless of where they are headquartered or conduct the majority of their business. 

The problem with this is that some districts have been known to favor patent owners in these cases, like in the Eastern District of Texas court where almost half of all U.S. patent lawsuits were filed in the first half of this year.

Why would this Texas court system be such a favorite for patent cases?  As I’ve written before, it’s because the judicial system there is heavily tilted in the favor of the plaintiffs and locals have created a profitable industry from attracting and litigating these case.

This isn’t justice.  The patent system is routinely abused by bad actors who attempt to extort payments from companies.  Too often, from a business’s perspective, even if the case against them is weak, it is often less costly just to pay up rather than try to prove their innocence.  We need legal reform to stop the abuse of the patent system, and to prevent venue shopping, which allows problems like we’ve seen in the Eastern District of Texas to develop.   

As Chuck Muth explains in Townhall:

As long as patent trolls can file patent lawsuits anywhere, they’ll always aim to file them in courts with the weakest rules. That’s why we need strong venue reform requiring a nexus to a particular district before being able to file a lawsuit there – such as the district where the defendant’s principle place of businesses is located, or where the patent owner has a development or manufacturing facility. 

This kind of obvious, sensible reform ought to be a no-brainer for Congress.  This shouldn’t be a partisan issue – Republicans and Democrats both ought to want to make our legal system more just and functional.   Our current legal structure, which creates such opportunities for exploitation, drains resources from legitimate businesses, discouraging job creation and raising prices for consumers.  There is no reason we should have to accept this sorry status quo.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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