District Judge Alan D. Albright of the Western District of Texas was once again the nation’s top judge for patent litigation in the third quarter of 2021, with 18% of new patent litigation falling in his courtroom. Judge Albright was trailed by District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas in a distant second place (8%), who in turn was followed by District Judges Colm F. Connolly, Leonard P. Stark, and Maryellen Noreika of the District of Delaware.
As detailed in RPX’s latest quarterly report, Judge Albright has given plaintiffs a variety of reasons to prefer his courtroom, including his emphasis on quick time to trial, his inclination against staying cases pending inter partes review, and his preference against granting early Alice motions. Yet among the most prominent reasons Judge Albright’s courtroom might be seen as “sticky” for defendants is his handling of motions to transfer for convenience, which he rarely grants. This issue has led to an ongoing tussle with the Federal Circuit, which in part has objected to his handling of the substantive factors underpinning such transfer motions in a series of prominent reversals starting in mid-2020.
Despite indications in Q2 that he would adjust his approach in response to Federal Circuit pushback, Judge Albright’s subsequent jurisprudence on transfers has indicated otherwise—as highlighted in a recent wave of new appellate reversals. Notably, the last day of the second quarter saw the Federal Circuit issue its first precedential decision undoing a transfer order by Judge Albright, faulting him in In re: Samsung I for allowing venue “manipulation” by a set of plaintiffs and for misapplying a variety of factors in a similar manner to prior rulings overturned by the appellate court. Subsequent mandamus reversals—including a surge of new decisions handed down as Q3 came to a close—have highlighted the same recurring legal issues, strongly suggesting that Judge Albright is disinclined to change his approach. This trend has continued into the fourth quarter as well, including another trio of Federal Circuit decisions in late November that reversed another set of transfer denials by Judge Albright.
For more on Judge Albright’s handling of convenience transfer motions, as well as other trends impacting patent litigation, see RPX’s third-quarter review.