Google, Samsung get East Texas patent cases moved to California

3 minute read

The logo for Google LLC is seen at their office in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Northern California found more convenient than East Texas court
  • Judge's past experience with the patents did not outweigh other factors

(Reuters) - Google LLC, Google's Waze Mobile Ltd and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd convinced a U.S. appeals court Monday to move separate patent lawsuits against them over map technology from East Texas federal court to Northern California.

Chief U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap should have granted the companies' request to transfer AGIS Software Development LLC's lawsuits because the California court was a more convenient place to try them, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said.

AGIS' attorney Fred Fabricant of Fabricant said he and the company were "very disappointed." He said it "strains all logic" to transfer the cases, which were set for trials in June and August, based on convenience.

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Google spokesperson José Castañeda said the company was pleased with the decision. He added that Google has called for the end of forum shopping by parties looking to sue in jurisdictions seen as friendly to their patent claims, "which only furthers abusive and costly litigation."

Samsung, Waze and their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

AGIS sued the three companies in Marshall, Texas in 2019, arguing user-communication technology in Google and Waze's map apps violated its patents. Samsung's devices that work with Google's apps also infringe, AGIS said.

Gilstrap rejected the defendants' request to move the cases to Google's home district in Northern California. The judge said court congestion and judicial economy favored keeping the cases in Texas, and noted that he had already presided over a case involving the same patents.

Gilstrap's court once heard more patent cases than any other in the country. The Eastern District of Texas is now the third most-active federal court for patent cases behind the Western District of Texas and the District of Delaware, according to a Lex Machina report.

Circuit Judge Alan Lourie, writing Monday for a three-judge panel, said it would be easier to access potential witnesses and evidence in the Northern District of California, and that California had a stronger interest in the case.

AGIS had apparently rented office space in Marshall, Texas just to maintain patent cases there, the appeals court said.

The appeals court also said Gilstrap's previous experience with the patents did not give AGIS a "free pass" to have the cases heard in his court.

The case is In re Google LLC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 22-140.

For AGIS: Fred Fabricant of Fabricant

For the defendants: Ginger Anders, Evan Mann and Jordan Segall of Munger Tolles & Olson

Read more:

Top Google lawyer calls for U.S. patent reforms

Albright hits back at Federal Circuit while moving Google patent dispute

U.S. Chief Justice Roberts pledges to review patent venue rules

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com