Mass Law Blog

How to Attract Patent Litigation

by | Nov 27, 2008

If you’re a federal district court, that is.

The answer? You need something not every federal district has. The Eastern and Southern Districts of Texas have them. The Northern District of California has them. The Districts of Pennsylvania (Western), Georgia (Northern) and Illinois (Northern) have them. In fact, so many U.S. District Courts have them that its getting difficult to keep up. Like so many things in life, at first its an advantage to have them, and eventually it becomes necessity.

And now the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has them.

What are they? Local procedural rules that apply only to patent cases. Local patent rules recognize that patent cases present legal, technical and discovery issues that call for specialized handling. In most jurisdictions these rules require early claim identification and invalidity defenses, attempt to schedule early claim construction (by the Court or by stipulation of the parties) and generally attempt to speed up the patent litigation process. After all, plaintiffs tend to seek out jurisdictions where they can get to trial as quickly as possible, since delay only increases expenses, while speed tends to lead to settlements.

Frankly, the Massachusetts local patent rules appear on the weak end of the spectrum – they focus entirely on the initial Local Rule Rule 16.1 statement to the court, and require the parties to propose a schedule for disclosure of infringement claims and invalidity defenses, address issues associated with claim construction and tutorials for the Court (somewhat common in patent suits), and address various discovery-related issues. By contrast, the Patent Rules in the Eastern District of Texas (which attracts a great deal of patent litigation), sets strict requirements that far exceed the Massachusetts rules.

It’s unlikely that that the Massachusetts patent rules will turn Massachusetts into a hotbed of patent litigation, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Perhaps this will prove to be the first step toward rules that will turn Massachusetts into the “rocket docket” so admired by plaintiffs lawyers and feared by defendants.