The close of the first quarter of 2020 means new patent filings totals from across the U.S., with the PTAB and the District of Delaware leading the way at 333 and 174 filings respectively. However, it was the Western District of Texas (WDTX) that made the biggest leap, continuing its surge since Judge Alan Albright was appointed to the bench in late 2018.
The first quarter of 2020 saw 163 patent filings in the WDTX, projecting to over 600 for the year. This comes after totaling only 257 for the entirety of 2019, which was up from 86 in all of 2018, and only 1 in all of 2017. If the trend continues, not only will WDTX eclipse its own total early in Q2, but the year end numbers are likely to continue to balloon and surpass the District of Delaware’s patent filings.
The rise of the WDTX to join the EDTX as a top venue for patent cases emphasizes the importance of a strong Texas presence for patent litigation firms. Maier & Maier’s Texas office, opened just last year in anticipation of the rise, affords the firm the proximity and expert resources necessary to handle the increased filings in the area.
This bump in filings is the result of Albright’s appointment and the subsequent changes he has made to the local rules for patent cases in the WDTX. These changes include a new filing schedule and streamlined Markmen hearings to attract patent filings. Combined with these appealing local rules, Albright’s tendency against transfers and the WDTX’s uncongested docket make the district highly appealing for patent filings, especially for Non-Practicing Entities.
Overall, both district court patent filings and PTAB filings remained steady in comparison to Q1 of 2019. Balancing out the surge in the WDTX, the District of Delaware is on pace to drop for the first time in over five years (only 696 in 2020 compared to 989 in 2019). Despite the drop, the District of Delaware remains a top venue for filings and there is little chance that ends in the near future.