As the Western District of Texas remains atop the venue charts, an issue of ongoing interest for patent litigants has been how District Judge Alan D. Albright has handled motions to transfer. Most of this narrative has thus far focused on his restrictive approach to convenience transfers, a posture that may be shifting in response to a series of recent reversals by the Federal Circuit. However, less attention has been paid to his treatment of motions alleging improper venue, since—unlike former NPE hotspots like the Eastern District of Texas—many companies have active operations in West Texas, and may therefore “reside” in that venue as established under the Supreme Court’s 2017 TC Heartland decision. While such a venue challenge may not be an option for some defendants, recent orders by Judge Albright suggest that improper venue challenges may succeed in his court for companies with a sufficiently minimal presence there.
AT&T (6:21-cv-00088), Charter Communications (6:21-cv-00089), Crown Castle (6:21-cv-00090), Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile) (6:21-cv-00092), DISH Network (6:21-cv-00093), and Windstream (6:21-cv-00088) have been sued in the Optic153 LLC campaign, each accused of infringing six optical networking patents through the provision of optical amplification in their various networks and systems. Each complaint identifies equipment within those networks provided by Cisco, with the pleadings against AT&T and Windstream also calling out Fujitsu devices—all without naming Cisco or Fujitsu as a defendant.