09.26.17

Rodney Gilstrap Dubbed “America’s Worst Patent Judge” Having Long Facilitated Trolls for Gains

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When the courtroom is treated like the reception desk of a business rather than carrier of justice

Gas pump

Summary: In an effort to feed the litigation ‘industry’ (and hospitality around it) Rodney Gilstrap has subverted the rule of law and is being called out on it

WE DO NOT believe in judge bashing (it’s not an honourable thing to do unless there is demonstrable misconduct as in the case of Randall Rader). However, prominent US politicians themselves are calling Gilstrap “reprehensible” (and explained why earlier this year). We last wrote about it some days ago because even courts above Gilstrap’s are losing their patience.

A few days ago an article by Mike Masnick called Gilstrap the “Patent Trolls’ Favorite Judge” and noted that the court above his own “Can’t Just Ignore The Supreme Court To Keep Patent Cases In Texas” (same thing we wrote at the time). To quote some bits:

A few weeks ago, we noted that Judge Rodney Gilstrap, a judge in East Texas who is infamous for handling approximately 25% of all patent cases in the entire country, appeared to be ignoring the Supreme Court in an effort to keep all those patent cases in his own docket. You see, earlier this year, in an important case, the Supreme Court said that the proper venue for a patent lawsuit to be brought should be where the defendant “resides” rather than just wherever they “do business.” Previously, patent trolls had said that the lawsuits could be brought wherever a company did business — which, with internet firms, meant anywhere — allowing them to file in their favorite court in East Texas. The Supreme Court said “that’s not what the law says.”

But Gilstrap tried, somewhat creatively, to twist himself around those rules, by arguing that all sorts of other factors could be used to determine “residence” — basically including (again) if you had any connection to that jurisdiction at all — and thus continue to allow East Texas to be an acceptable venue. We listed out those factors in the earlier post, but don’t need to do so again, because the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has already weighed in and said “nope, that’s not how it works.”

Today, BoingBoing wrote about this too and this was sent to us by readers, who are eager to see us mentioning it again because Gilstrap is, in effect, the trolls’ ‘mole’ in Texas. Here is what BoingBoing wrote:

America’s worst patent judge gets a scorching language lesson from the appeals court

Judge Rodney Gilstrap serves the Eastern District of Texas court, the venue from which patent trolls have extorted billions in useless menaces money from US industry; Gilstrap hears 25% of the patent cases brought in the USA, and has a track record for making epically terrible rulings.

But Gilstrap and the Eastern District are under threat, thanks to a series of rulings (including a Supreme Court ruling) that holds that patent holders have to sue alleged infringers in the place where they “reside” and not just in some place where their products are available (which, in the internet age, is everywhere).

Gilstrap tried to get around this, allowing a troll to bring another case to the Eastern District of Texas by making up a nonsensical “residency test” that would keep the racket alive.

We too are tempted to bash this judge, but in order to avoid hypocrisy (it’s usually Watchtroll who is judge-bashing) we prefer to show how other sites are bashing him. He probably deserves this. He did this to his own reputation.

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