Apple is closing its two stores in patent-litigation haven Eastern Texas for a brilliant reason

GettyApple CEO Tim Cook
  • Apple is closing its two stores in a specific district in Eastern Texas and opening up a new one just across the border.
  • And its a brilliant move to throw off so-called patent trolls, who flourish

Apple is closing both of its stores in a specific district in Eastern Texas, and opening up a new one just across the district’s border, reports Joe Rossignol at MacRumors.

This a brilliant way for Apple to shrug off pesky lawsuits from so-called patent trolls, while also giving the cold shoulder to the municipality that allowed those trolls to flourish.

Sources told MacRumors that the two stores in question are in the northern suburbs of Dallas in Plano, Texas, and in Frisco, Texas, and Apple later confirmed the store closing to TechCrunch. Both of the stores are located in the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The new store will be opened at the Galleria Dallas, which is physically very close to the other stores, but, by the nature of how the district lines are drawn, is located within the jurisdiction of the Northern District court.

Texas’ Eastern District is infamous in the tech world as the court of choice for suing someone over patent infringement. Patent lawsuits tried there, even jury cases, tend to be won by the plaintiff. And because of that, the Eastern District has been a godsend for so-called patent trolls – companies that buy up patents then go around suing big corporations for patent infringement, even though the new patent owner didn’t invent the tech or use it to create a product.

But in May 2017, the United States Supreme Court struck a blow to patent trolls by ruling that infringement lawsuits had to be filed in the state where the company resides, which tends to mean the state in which the company is incorporated. Such suits can no longer be filed in a federal court of the plaintiff’s choosing, with a big exception: If the plaintiff could show that the defendant had an established place of business in the district where the suit was filed, they could still sue in that district’s court, reported the Washington Post.

Therefore, Apple, one of the companies frequently targeted for patent litigation, is leaving the Eastern Texas district, according to the report.

And there’s another whammy in Apple’s decision: any taxes or lease space payments the stores provided to the area will be taken elsewhere as well, as another blow to the area.

Patent litigation is one of the banes of the tech industry. The Supreme Court has in the past couple of years issued ruling to try and squash the business of patent trolling. It may not last, though. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a watchdog group for issues impacting the tech industry, warned earlier this month that the Patent Office is trying to impose new rules that could water down some of those rulings.

Apple says that employees from the two stores will be offered jobs at other stores. According to a spokesperson:

“We’re making a major investment in our stores in Texas, including significant upgrades to NorthPark Center, Southlake and Knox Street. With a new Dallas store coming to the Dallas Galleria this April, we’ve made the decision to consolidate stores and close Apple Stonebriar and Apple Willow Bend. All employees from those stores will be offered positions at the new Dallas store or other Apple locations.”

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