The "Rocket Docket"

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As most of the readers of this blog are aware, the Eastern District of Texas has become quite a hotbed for patent litigation in the past few years. As the litigation has proliferated, the small town of Marshall, Texas has garnered the attention the legal world and was even featured in a New York Times article published on September 24, 2006. This post is a brief summary of that article, which describes the origin and operation of the so called 'rocket docket' in the lone star state. To give the reader an idea of just how much litigation has increased in the Eastern District of Texas, I give you these numbers: 32 patent cases filed in 2002 as opposed to 234 this year. This increase is due to the fact that it�s a good place to sue. You sue to win, and the plaintiff wins 78% of the time in cases brought in Marshall. Another point of interest is what I like to call the 'Matlock Effect' that accompanies litigation in a small southern town. Basically, the local lawyers who are hired know everyone in town and have them over for beers and barbecue prior to trial. This good old boy atmosphere gives the local lawyers a distinct edge because they know the jurors and the judge, and can strategize accordingly. Lastly, the Court in Marshall got its reputation as a "rocket docket" because of the rules instituted by Judge Ward. Basically, the rules create rigid time deadlines and length restrictions on documents submitted to court. This reduced the time necessary to actually try a case, and when combined with the 'Matlock Effect' and high plaintiff success rates facilitating out of court settlements, the "rocket docket" lives up to its nickname.

1 response to “The "Rocket Docket"”

  1. Joseph Says:
    EDTX also is taking a lead in expediting the flow of the case through clarifying Local Patent Rules as well. Chief Judge Heartfield made sure amendments to Preliminary Infringement Contentions are filed timely by amending Local Patent Rules for EDTX, i.e. amendment to PIC are filed without the leave of court within 30 days of Markman hearing or of reviewing documents made available to the claimant whichever comes first. The spirit of "rocket docket" seems to be setting in not only informally but formally as well.

    Note, NDCA so far has not followed the suit.

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