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Forum shopping

Forum shopping (or venue shopping), regarding patents, exists regarding litigation and making legislation.

For litigation

For litigation, forum shopping is when patent holders have a choice of courts in which to file litigation. The patent holder can thus choose the court (the forum) which they think will give them the best chance of winning or where they will get the largest award.


The issue of forum shopping was raised in a 2008 CAFC case, where it was ruled "perfectly legitimate".[1]

However, this does not mean it's legitimate in all cases. It was found legitimate in a 2010 case, where Apple was sued by a patent troll that set up a ghost office in East Texas. Apple filed to have the case moved to another district, but lost.[2] But in a 2014 case, Google was sued by Rockstar in East Texas but the judge ruled the case should be moved to California because Rockstar's majority shareholder is the California-based Apple and Rockstar's litigation was clearly part of Apple's business activities.[3]

Patent holders' favourite: East Texas

In the USA, the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) is seen as a notoriously good forum for patent litigators.[4][5][6] According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers' 2009 patent litigation study, "Certain federal district courts (particularly Virginia Eastern and Texas Eastern) continue to be more favorable to patent holders, with shorter time-to-trial, higher success rates, and higher median damages awards."

As of 2014, Delaware (DDEL) is also becoming a popular venue.[7]


Case law is not binding between countries which have signed the European Patent Convention, but a win in one country would certainly make product developers in other countries worried.


Florian Mueller points out in 2010 that:[8]

50% of all European patent litigation takes place in a single city: in Düsseldorf, a German city that patent holders often choose as their preferred European forum.

But in July 2012, he noted that "This morning, Judge Andreas Voss ("Voß" in German) of the Mannheim Regional Court, who has already presided over more smartphone-related patent lawsuits than any other judge in the world, ..."[9]

For legislation

In Europe, there was already one clear attempt to make software ideas patentable, that is, the proposal for legislation which the European Parliament in 2005. Subsequent proposals which avoid legislation and which could make software patentable are often seen as forum shopping.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is also seen as forum shopping, using international negotiations to create legislation which would not be accepted if proposed directly to national parliaments.

Related pages on ESP Wiki

External links