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Androvett Blog

by Robert Tharp at 10:51:02 am

Whither the rocket docket?

Who would have thought pre-2001 that the small east Texas town of Marshall would become the epicenter of some of the most complex and high stakes patent law

litigation and trials in the country? That's exactly what happened when Judge T. John Ward created the "rocket docket" in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to speed up the disposition of patent infringement lawsuits. An interesting Texas Lawyer article this week questions whether the venue has become a victim of its own popularity. In an area where long legal delays are costly for plaintiffs, some patent cases filed in the Eastern District are not getting court dates until 2011, the paper reports. Patent litigator  Doug Cawley, a shareholder in McKool Smith in Dallas, tells Texas Lawyer that efforts to prevent plaintiffs from "forum shopping" have so far failed to gain traction in Congress. Such legislation might have trimmed the Eastern District's docket by limiting plaintiffs' ability to choose the venue to file a case. Cawley says the Marshall Division still has value because the courts still move cases quickly, and recent success among defendants has assuaging concerns that the courts there are generally pro-plaintiff.