"There's wide agreement that the US patent system is sorely in need of changes. The White House, Congress and several state attorneys general have fought to curb the mountain of patent lawsuits clogging the judicial system. The problem is especially bad in the tech industry, where both tech giants and patent trolls have traded barbs in suits for years. Many government agencies see this rash of patent suits as hurting innovation, especially for small companies that don't have the money to fight drawn-out patent suits.
There have been a lot of efforts to cut down on patent suits, including Congress' 2011 America Invents Act, the first reform of patent laws in decades. Also, in 2014 the Supreme Court struck down a software patent in the case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. Since that ruling, many lower courts have thrown out other software patents, making it harder for patent trolls to go after bigger companies.
Still, the number of cases by patent trolls went up last year to 3,604, from 2,891 in 2014, according to a January report by patent services company RPX. The number was down from 3,733 in 2013. The most popular location by far to file these suits has been the Eastern District of Texas, which has long been considered the most plaintiff-friendly place for this kind of litigation. The Apple award on Wednesday was in the same district."