PublishedDecember 8, 2021

Albright Names NPE Lawyer As New Magistrate Judge For Waco

With the transformation of his Waco courtroom into the venue for more than 25% of all patent cases in the United States, Judge Albright can’t keep up with all the business he’s “drummed up” for his courtroom.  He’s made heavy use of technical advisors—one of whom made more than $700,000 in the first half of 2021 alone—as well as deferring almost all non-patent cases to his magistrates for all pre-trial proceedings.  

But even with a magistrate and technical advisors, it seems like Judge Albright needs more help managing the patent docket he created in Waco.  Earlier this year, the Judicial Conference authorized a second magistrate judge for the Waco court.  And Judge Albright has arrived at his selection for that role, naming litigator Derek Gilliland to the position.

Gilliland is a Texas lawyer, most recently operating out of Tyler in the Eastern District of Texas.  But Gilliland hasn’t been a stranger to Waco.  Most recently, he was plaintiff’s counsel in multiple NPE lawsuits in front of Judge Albright.  Two of them stand out as particularly noteworthy.

In the first case, Gilliland helped represent Profectus in its lawsuit against Google.  At trial, a jury found Google didn’t infringe the patent.  This probably wasn’t a surprise to Gilliland—after all, Profectus had previously unsuccessfully asserted the same patent against Apple, Samsung, and Dell.

But it’s the second case that really drives home the concern with Gilliland.  Gilliland represented Ikorongo in its litigation against Samsung.  And in that litigation, Ikorongo engaged in a “bald-faced attempt to manipulate venue,” playing games with assignment of its patent to try to keep the case from being transferred out of Judge Albright’s courtroom.  The Federal Circuit rejected this tactic as “collusive,” “artificial,” and “manipulative.”  (CCIA filed an amicus brief in this case arguing that Ikorongo’s venue manipulation tactics were impermissible.)

These aren’t the only examples, only the most recent ones.  Gilliland has also regularly represented hedge-fund backed NPEs like Intellectual Ventures and Fortress subsidiary DSS.

Charged with finding a magistrate who would engage in the “expeditious, proper, and impartial performance of their duties as judicial officers,” Judge Albright selected a plaintiff’s lawyer who most recently represented a client who engaged in collusive and manipulative tactics to try to keep their case in front of Judge Albright and another client who asserted a patent that had been repeatedly rejected.

If you were looking for a way to “undermine public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,” it’d be hard to think of a better one.

Josh Landau

Patent Counsel, CCIA

Joshua Landau is the Patent Counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), where he represents and advises the association regarding patent issues.  Mr. Landau joined CCIA from WilmerHale in 2017, where he represented clients in patent litigation, counseling, and prosecution, including trials in both district courts and before the PTAB.

Prior to his time at WilmerHale, Mr. Landau was a Legal Fellow on Senator Al Franken’s Judiciary staff, focusing on privacy and technology issues.  Mr. Landau received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.S.E.E. from the University of Michigan.  Before law school, he spent several years as an automotive engineer, during which time he co-invented technology leading to U.S. Patent No. 6,934,140.

Follow @PatentJosh on Twitter.

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