Defining Troll or Hoosier, Wherever They Meet.

Perhaps what identifies a troll is where you find him/it.  Trolls hide beneath a bridge; other ogres and miscreants are found elsewhere.  What is a bridge – the shortest route over an obstacle.  Thus, if the rocket docket in the E.D. Texas is the shortest route, then it serves as a bridge for patent litigants.  Maybe that’s why many of the litigants who race to that bridge are identified as trolls.  All elements of these standard scripts and stock characters are presented in four recently-filed suits over the Hill patents for e-catalogs.
Hill obtained three patents, for inventions with the stated object of “providing a customer at a remote location with accurate updated product information” when signed onto an “electronic catalog system.”  An infringement suit was filed in Marshall, Texas by Hill against a group of well-known internet retailers, in late June.  But before that, two retailers filed declaratory judgment suits that challenge the Hill patents in the Southern District of Indiana.  What provoked these were letters demanding they take a license from Hill.  A letter to another retailer (known to your wives) was under discussion, when on Aug. 23rd Hill named it in an Amended Complaint in the Texas case, but then on Aug. 25th, that retailer filed a third DJ action in Indiana, Zappos.com, Inc. v. Chas. E. Hill & Assoc., Inc., (06-CV-1282).
What more than forum-shopping is emblematic of patent litigation, well perhaps, motions challenging jurisdiction or venue.  Hill moved to dismiss the first cases in Indiana, arguing that the letter seeking a license did not create a justiciable case or controversy.  One must presume that the defendants joined in Texas will move to leave that forum, perhaps in favor of the first-filed case in Indiana.  Often, the first act of combat is to force the troll far away from the comfort of his chosen bridge. 
The Hill patents, or at least the last issued, remind me of the heady days at the close of Y2K, when business methods patents could be fully-pollinated, just months after filing.  The allowability of Hill’s USP 6,029,142 was noted only fourteen months after filing, and six of those months were an extension of time to respond to the one office action.  The application was passed to the Examiner in August 1998 and 100 days later that one office action issued.  That timeframe amazes me, since the Hill `142 patent cites about 120 patent references, and about 70 publications as prior art.
That is about all that can be surmised now about the litigation landscape for the Hill e-catalog patents.  Will the patents of Hill be heard by a jury of Hoosiers, or will the disputants have to move quickly across that bridge in Texas.