RPX’s latest quarterly report details a noteworthy shift in patent venue trends in Q1 2023, as the Western District of Texas fell out of first place for overall patent litigation filed this past quarter—the first time it has not been the top district since Q1 2020. That shift occurred as a result of changes in West Texas last July, where the district’s then-Chief Judge Orlando L. Garcia imposed a standing order designed to undercut the dominance of Waco District Judge Alan D. Albright. Filings could previously be directed at a particular district—allowing plaintiffs to pick Judge Albright, as Waco’s only district judge—but the standing order requires that patent cases filed in Waco instead be distributed among a larger pool of judges, including Judge Albright.
Although Judge Albright has received more new filings than expected since then—a result of the district’s practice of assigning new litigation to the judge who oversaw prior filings involving the same parties and patents—Waco has seen far less NPE litigation overall in the past several months. While Waco NPE complaints rebounded in the fall after an initial slowdown following the July order, they began to drop once again in mid-December, when Judge Garcia’s successor, Chief Judge Alia Moses, confirmed that the order would continue to govern Waco patent case assignments. By the end of Q1, cumulative NPE complaints in Waco since the original case assignment order were 34% lower than they were for the comparable prior-year period.
The longer-term impact of the July order can be seen below. NPE patent litigation in Waco (counted below by defendants added) now stands at roughly half of where it stood at its peak.
For more on the Western District of Texas, venue, and other trends impacting patent litigation in Q1, see RPX’s first-quarter review.