No more sneaky venue shopping for you clever patent lawyers! That’s what patent troll Balthaser Online Inc’ s lawyers basically got told last week after they tried to keep a case in the plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas by salting the defendant stew with local Texas companies.
We wrote a column recently about how plaintiff lawyers sued a tiny computer repair shop in Texas in the same case that they sued Google, Yahoo and Myspace for patent infringement. The idea was to keep the case from being transferred, since recent rulings have made it easier for out-of-town defendants to escape the Eastern District of Texas.
The Balthaser case was particularly amusing. The California company (yes, Balthaser is from California) sued a flotilla of mostly California companies, from Electronic Arts to Friendster, for patent infringement in the Eastern District of Texas. But after a Federal Circuit case called TS Tech made it easier to transfer out of Texas, Balthaser's lawyers from Dickstein Shapiro and McKool Smith got creative and threw in a couple of locals. One was Big Jump Media Inc., a Plano company that runs Tangle.com, a sort of Christian YouTube site that used to be called GodTube. (Turn your kids onto this, and instead of learning how to snort Smarties on that other ’Tube they will be listening to some truly awesome Christian rock.)
But Texas Judge David Folsom would have none of it. Last week, he granted (.pdf) the defendants’ motion to transfer to the defense-friendly and much more convenient Northern District of California. Folsom also severed the case, letting the Texas defendants stay in Texas. A win for Fenwick & West’s Mike Sacksteder, who led the charge to transfer the case. You can read a full story here from out sibling publication the National Law Journal.
— Zusha Elinson