Apple Plans to Close Stores in Eastern District of Texas in Fight Against Patent Trolls [Updated]

Apple plans to close both of its retail stores within the Eastern District of Texas in a few months from now in an effort to protect itself from patent trolls, according to five sources familiar with the matter.

Apple Willow Bend in Plano, Texas and Apple Stonebriar in Frisco, Texas, both located in the northern suburbs of Dallas, are expected to permanently close in mid April. One source said each store's final day of business will be Friday, April 12. Employees were briefed about the plans earlier this week.

To continue to serve the region, Apple plans to open a new store at the Galleria Dallas shopping mall in Dallas, just outside the Eastern District of Texas border. One source said the store will open Saturday, April 13.

A rough visualization of Apple's retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas and its upcoming Galleria Dallas store

The plans are significant, as U.S. law states that patent infringement lawsuits may be filed "where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business." By closing its stores in Eastern Texas, Apple is ending its established place of business in the district.

Residency is also a factor in determining the applicable venue of a patent infringement lawsuit, but in May 2017, the Supreme Court shifted precedent by ruling that a U.S. corporation resides only in its state of incorporation. Apple is incorporated in California, not Texas, satisfying this clause.

The Eastern District of Texas has been a hotbed for patent litigation over the past few decades due to well-established rules for patent infringement cases, experienced judges, lower probability of cases being transferred to another district, and quicker jury verdicts, according to a SMU Dedman School of Law paper.

Patent infringement lawsuits against Apple will likely shift to U.S. district courts in Northern California and Delaware.

Fortunately, we're hearing that the plans, while inconvenient, are not too detrimental for employees. One source said Apple has offered employees opportunities to transfer to other stores, work from home for AppleCare, or severance to those who are not interested in working at another Apple location.

Apple has yet to publicly announce the plans. We reached out to Apple for comment late Thursday but have yet to hear back.

Update: Apple has confirmed the impending store closures in a statement issued to TechCrunch:
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.
Apple did not provide a specific reason for the store closures beyond consolidation.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

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12 months ago
Well, the eastern district of texas gets their just desserts for making it so easy for patent trolls to file there... GG.
Rating: 45 Votes
12 months ago
Patent trolls are evil. Whatever it takes...
Rating: 35 Votes
12 months ago

Talk about spitting your dummy out. Is that how pathetic Apple really have become?

It's more how pathetic patent law has become in the US that Apple has to take this step to protect themselves.
Rating: 35 Votes
12 months ago

Talk about spitting your dummy out. Is that how pathetic Apple really have become?

Say you had 20 convenience stores. 18 are doing fine. 2 of them in Downtown Detroit keep getting robbed, you're losing money there. Is it pathetic for you to stop serving Downtown Detroit?
Rating: 33 Votes
12 months ago

In terms of filing, the rules in EDTX are the same as every single other district in this country.

It isn't the rules, it is the judicial environment. They'll still get sued, but in districts where the outcome isn't heavily favoring the trolls. It is like home field advantage for the trolls. If you want supporting evidence of biased judicial environment, just look up Madison County IL. It has repeatedly earned the title of Judicial Hellhole, mostly due to asbestos cases.
Rating: 23 Votes
12 months ago
Surprised it took them this long.
Rating: 21 Votes
12 months ago
Bravo Apple. Why does that district have such a leaning against defendants?
Rating: 17 Votes
12 months ago
Well that is inconvenient... Apple Stonebriar is my Apple Store.
Rating: 12 Votes
12 months ago
It's a pain for the customers but I understand why Apple had to do it.
Rating: 12 Votes
12 months ago

I'm curious why? does having a store in that region open themselves up to lawsuits/patent suits that they wouldn't necessarily be open to elsewhere?

It's outlined in the opening post - because Apple has stores in the Eastern District of Texas, they can be sued there under US law. Once they leave the Eastern District by closing the stores, they can no longer be sued there.

if Company X owned Patent Y, couldn't they still sue apple in east texas even if there's no stores there?

No they cannot, because Apple will no longer have a presence in the Eastern District.

I really don't see the point. Patent holders are going to sue, troll or not, because they own the patent.

The Eastern District of Texas is perceived to favor patent holders in cases. That is why patent holders prefer to file in that district whenever they can. By closing the stores and (legally) leaving the District, those patent holders can no longer benefit from this (perceived) bias. And that might very well preclude some of them from filing patent suits because they may face a higher burden of proof that makes the attempt not worth the effort.
Rating: 11 Votes

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