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.

The appeals division slapped him down with extreme prejudice, handing down a ruling whose sarcasm-oozing language lesson is a thing of beauty:


The statutory language we need to interpret is “where the defendant . . . has a regular and established place of business.” 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). The noun in this phrase is “place,” and “regular” and “established” are adjectives modifying the noun “place.” The following words, “of business,” indicate the nature and purpose of the “place,” and the preceding words, “the defendant,” indicate that it must be that of the defendant. Thus, § 1400(b) requires that “a defendant has” a “place of business” that is “regular” and “established.” All of these requirements must be present. The district court’s four-factor test is not sufficiently tethered to this statutory language and thus it fails to inform each of the necessary requirements of the statute...

...As noted above, when determining venue, the first requirement is that there “must be a physical place in the district.” The district court erred as a matter of law in holding that “a fixed physical location in the district is not a prerequisite to proper venue.” ... This interpretation impermissibly expands the statute. The statute requires a “place,” i.e., “[a] building or a part of a building set apart for any purpose” or “quarters of any kind” from which business is conducted. William Dwight Whitney, The Century Dictionary, 732 (Benjamin E. Smith, ed. 1911); see also Place, Black’s Law Dictionary (1st ed. 1891) (defining place as a “locality, limited by boundaries”). The statute thus cannot be read to refer merely to a virtual space or to electronic communications from one person to another. But such “places” would seemingly be authorized under the district court’s test.

Appeals Court Tells Patent Trolls' Favorite Judge He Can't Just Ignore The Supreme Court To Keep Patent Cases In Texas
[Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

Loading...