A recent study by LegalMetrics, a litigation analysis firm, named the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida among the top five districts for speed to resolution in patent infringement cases. Since Florida has not been known as a “rocket docket” in the past, these results may seem surprising. However, for intellectual property litigation attorneys, the recognition that Florida offers a favorable forum for facilitating the resolution of cases in a timely manner is nothing new.
The Southern District (in yellow) and the Middle District (in green) cover all Florida’s major population centers. A survey we performed of filings of intellectual property cases in popular federal districts including these Florida Districts reveals that, with the exception of the Eastern District of Virginia, filings of IP cases have trended downward in the last several years. Of course, fewer cases filed mean more attention for filed cases from the federal judges assigned to those cases.
Decisions in IP cases issued in early 2009 further suggest IP owners receive favorable treatment from Florida district court judges. Among these decisions were the following:
- In a trademark infringement case filed in the Southern District of Florida, district judge Daniel T. K. Hurley denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss finding that the plaintiff trademark licensee had standing to prosecute infringements even though it was not the trademark owner. In the process, the court adopted a liberal interpretation of standing for Lanham Act claims favorable to plaintiffs. See Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches v. Rosenthal, Case No. 08-80408 (Jun. 24, 2009) .
- In a patent infringement case filed in the Middle District of Florida, district judge Steven D. Merryday dismissed counterclaims for unjust enrichment as preempted by federal patent law. See Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville v. Alzheimer’s Institute of America, Inc., Case No. 8:05-cv-839 (Jun. 26, 2009).
- In a patent infringement case filed in the Southern District of Florida, district judge James I. Cohn denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss and held that the plaintiff had standing to sue for infringement based upon an agreement with the original inventor in England signed before the patents were ever filed in the United States. See Flexiteek Americas, Inc. v. Plasteak, Inc., Case No. 08-60996 (Jun. 14, 2009).
Other cases demonstrate a willingness among Florida district judges to find personal jurisdiction over defendants based upon very minimal contacts including activities on the Internet. Recent decisions have indicated that Florida courts will follow liberal standards for jurisdiction where simply maintaining an interactive website accessible on the Internet from Florida will subject a defendant to personal jurisdiction in the Sunshine State.
The moral of this story: when considering where to file an infringement action, intellectual property owners, including owners of trademarks, copyrights and patents, as well as counsel for these owners, would be wise to consider filing in the Southern or Middle Districts of Florida. Of course, IMHO, my firm Arnstein & Lehr LLP, with its vast Florida litigation resources and experience prosecuting infringements would be an excellent choice to partner with as knowledgeable counsel for such cases.