The Eastern District of Texas is a favorite forum of patent trolls in substantial part because its judges have demonstrated a substantial disinclination to stay litigation pending reexamination. Many presume that this historical bias will translate into a similar disinclination to stay litigation pending pending inter partes review. However, refusing to stay a case pending inter partes review will give rise to various case management conundrums.
The practical reality is that the petitioner (usually the defendant in the lawsuit) will be estopped from pursuing at trial any validity defense which reasonably could have been raised in the inter partes review. The time to trial in the Eastern District of Texas is around 25 months, which is about seven months after an inter partes review filed contemporaneously with the complaint should result in a final written decision. (assuming the maximum six month “front end” and assuming further that the PTAB does not extend the one year period in which the trial is to be completed by statute). Under the new inter partes review model, estoppel attaches at the time of the written decision. In most cases this would be amount to a 5-6 years acceleration of estoppel as compared to the old, inter partes reexamination system. Unless the parties settle the inter partes review (in which case they will likely also settle the lawsuit) the defendant will be estopped from pursuing any defenses at trial which could have been raised in the inter partes review proceeding.
That in turn creates a conundrum: Read the rest of this entry »