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West Texas Spreads Patent Case Duties, Curbing Judge Albright

July 25, 2022, 11:38 PM

New patent cases filed to a Waco, Texas, federal court will be randomly assigned to “equitably distribute” the lawsuits, according to a Monday order that comes amid increased scrutiny of Judge Alan Albright’s consolidation of patent litigation in his courtroom.

Patent suits filed after July 25 will be spread among 12 judges in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, Chief Judge Orlando L. Garcia said in the order. Previously, any case filed in Waco was automatically assigned to Albright, who has encouraged patent plaintiffs to flock to his court.

Nearly 25% of all patent litigation nationwide is currently pending before Albright, prompting criticism from Congress and US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who requested a report reviewing the flood of filings in Waco.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the nation’s top patent court, has repeatedly rebuked Albright for refusing to transfer cases from Waco and has increasingly forced him to move cases to California, where tech companies accused of patent infringement are based.

Two years after he joined the bench, Albright instituted unusual rules for patent cases, meant to move them along efficiently. Since then, Albright has shown a reluctance—albeit waning—to let patent cases leave West Texas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Samantha Handler in Washington at shandler@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com