Texas District Court Ends Automatic Assignment of New Patent Litigation Cases to Judge Albright
On July 25, 2022, Western District of Texas Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia issued an “Order Assigning The Business Of The Court As It relates To Patent Cases.” The Order states that all new patent infringement cases filed on or after July 25, 2022 in the Court’s Waco Division – in which District Judge Alan Albright is the only presiding judge – “shall be randomly assigned to” any of the twelve U.S. district judges sitting in any of the divisions of the Western District. The Order effectively ends Judge Albright’s exercise of authority over a substantial percentage of patent cases filed in the United States, going forward.
Recently, as much as 25% of all patent cases were filed in the Waco Division for the specific purpose of litigating under Judge Albright’s rules and procedures that were almost universally deemed as being particularly “plaintiff-friendly.” Judge Albright’s practices and rulings had attracted the attention of both the United States Senate and Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court, all of whom viewed the concentration of patent cases in a single court before a single judge to be detrimental to the U.S. patent system. Plaintiffs filing new complaints in Waco (not too far from Austin Texas) may find their new cases assigned to district judges presiding in federal district courts located in El Paso, Texas (approximately 615 miles by car), Del Rio, Texas (about 335 miles), Midland/Odessa, Texas (roughly 340 miles), and Pecos, Texas (approximately 415 miles), in addition to courts in relatively nearby San Antonio (180 miles) and Austin (approximately 100 miles).