The United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current United States Attorney is John Malcolm Bales.
The first federal judge in Texas was John C. Watrous, who was appointed on May 26, 1846, and had previously served as Attorney General of the Republic of Texas. He was assigned to hold court in Galveston, at the time, the largest city in the state. As seat of the Texas Judicial District, the Galveston court had jurisdiction over the whole state.
The Eastern District of Texas has seen an increase in the number of cases filed relating to patent infringement, notably in the courts of Judge T. John Ward in the Marshall Division, Judge Leonard Davis in the Tyler Division, and Judge David Folsom in the Texarkana Division. Perhaps because the district has a set of local rules for patent cases and relatively fast trial settings, patent plaintiffs have flocked to this small venue. In addition the proximity to larger cities (such as Dallas and Houston), along with a jury pool interested in protecting property rights, may attract patent cases to Marshall, Tyler, and Texarkana.
In 2003, there were 14 patent cases filed. In 2004, this number more than quadrupled to 59 patent cases filed. In 2006, the number of cases grew to an estimated 236.
The district has been perceived to be a favorable jurisdiction for plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits, which win 88% of the time compared to a nationwide average of 68% in 2006, even, according to some claims, in dubious cases (i.e. patent trolls).
Between 2004 and 2011 the district presided over TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Corp., involving the issues of patent infringement and contempt of court.
In 2009 Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, ordered a permanent injunction that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML," according to an announcement by the plaintiff, Toronto-based i4i Inc.
In 2013, 24.5% of federal patent suits filed in the U.S. were filed in the Eastern District. Judges in this district have been found to grant requests for summary judgment of invalidity at a lower rate than the national average.