Federal court in Marshall, Texas.Joe Mullin
The most litigious “patent troll” of 2014 has been effectively shut down, and will have to pay attorneys’ fees to several defendants.
US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who hears more patent cases that any other federal judge, issued an order (PDF) on Thursday saying that the behavior of eDekka LLC qualified as “exceptional,” and that the company should pay the legal fees of various companies it sued.
Gilstrap’s courtroom is perhaps the surprising spot in the nation from which a patent troll slap-down might originate. The judge has been criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for making life unnecessarily difficult for patent defendants. He’s also invalidated relatively few patents under Supreme Court precedent set in last year’s Alice Corp. case, even as other federal judges have been tossing out software patents at a steady clip.
And until this order was issued, Gilstrap had never before ordered any patent plaintiff to pay up for filing massive numbers of lawsuits, even after it became the easier to win such awards after the Octane Fitness case.
eDekka used US Patent No. 6,266,674, “Random Access Information Retrieval Utilizing User-Defined Labels,” to sue more than 200 companies in more than 160 separate lawsuits. Mostly, the defendants were retailers…