Western District of Texas IP Blog

Huge news concerning Western District of Texas patent litigation! WDTX Chief Judge Garcia has posted a new Order Assigning the Business of the Court as it Relates to Patent Cases, effective today. The order, which is quite brief, provides:

Upon consideration of the volume of new patent cases assigned to the Waco Division, and in an effort to equitably distribute those cases, it is hereby ORDERED that, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 137, all civil cases involving patents … , filed in the Waco Division on or after July 25, 2022, shall be randomly assigned to the following district judges of this Court until further order of the Court.

The order then lists 11 of the 12 sitting WDTX district judges (the sole exception being Judge Guaderrama in El Paso), sitting in each of the Austin, Del Rio, El Paso, Midland/Odessa, Pecos, San Antonio, and Waco Divisions, plus Senior District Judge Ezra of the San Antonio Division. Regular observers of the Waco Division will likely recall that in early November of last year, Senators Leahy and Tillis sent a joint letter to Chief Justice Roberts to relay concerns about “a consolidation of a large portion of patent litigation before a single district court judge in Texas,” and to request that the Chief Justice “direct the Judicial Conference to conduct a study of actual and potential abuses that the present situation has enabled.” That letter was extensively covered at the time:

It is hard to escape the conclusion that Judge Garcia’s new order is likely connected to the Chief Justice’s inquiry–especially in that Judge Garcia’s order does not otherwise alter the WDTX’s prior established case-assignment practices (i.e., cases are generally not reassigned outside of the division in which they are originally filed), except as to patent cases filed in Waco. Obviously the ramifications of this new order have only begun to be felt. We will observe the new WDTX reassignment process as it gets rolled out, and weigh in once we have conclusions to share.

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