The Court now has a default Protective Order for patent cases. The PO can be found under “Courtroom Guidance” on the Court’s website HERE.
Prior to this default protective order, Judge Albright had previously recommended that the parties use the default EDTX protective order as a starting point. The new Waco Division default protective order is similar to the EDTX order, with a few additions.
Most notably, the Waco Division PO includes both a “CONFIDENTIAL – OUTSIDE ATTORNEYS’ EYES ONLY” designation as well as a “CONFIDENTIAL – ATTORNEYS’ EYES ONLY” designation.
The past year and a half has been filled with speculation as to whether Waco would become the next Marshall, or whether the hype would die down and people would only remember the town for Fixer Upper.
Now that Waco has actually established itself as a patent litigation hotbed, it is important to see what makes the Waco Division unique when trying a patent case. Specific areas of these rules, practices, and procedures will be examined in greater detail in future posts, but here are some of the highlights:
Local Rules and Standing Orders:
A quick Ctrl+F in the Local Court Rules of the Western District of Texas – Civil Rules comes up empty when you search “patent.” However, a short click over to the Waco Division now shows six Standing Orders for Judge Albright: four of which apply to patent cases.
Judge Albright’s scheduling order aims for the Markman hearing 23 weeks after the initial case management conference, with a trial setting 44-47 weeks after the Markman hearing. Having only been on the bench just over a year, he has not yet had a patent case go to trial, but the first is set for trial this coming year.
Any discovery dispute must first be brought to the Court via telephone conference before any motion practice. Early Markman hearings coupled with limited pre-Markman discovery aim to curb costly up-front and unnecessary litigation.
Ruling from the Bench:
Judge Albright has expressed a preference for quick resolution of disputed issues. Rather than protracted motion practice coupled with months waiting for resolution, Judge Albright has favored ruling from the bench when practicable, including claim construction! It is not uncommon to walk out of a Markman hearing with most, if not all, of the Court’s constructions for disputed terms.