Reports have surfaced that Apple is set to close retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas, a move that will allow the company to better protect itself from patent infringement lawsuits (via 9to5Mac). Apple has provided confirmation they are set to close those stores. Employees that are impacted by the closures will be offered new jobs with the company due to these changes.
Specifically, Apple is set to close its Apple Willow Bend store in Plano, Texas and Apple Stonebriar in Frisco, Texas, as reported by MacRumors, and confirmed by Apple. These stores are set to permanently close on Friday, April 12. For those customers impacted, Apple will open a new location on April 13 at the Galleria Dallas Shopping Mall.
So far, majority of the closures Apple has done have been due to renovations. The popularity of patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas has concerned Apple a lot, and the company has continued to face lawsuits. While patent trolls are common in this area, a recent Supreme Court ruling has attempted to crack down on the practice.
Apple is closing those stores at a great cost to themselves. The company has had to make some ridiculous payouts in recent years: $625.6 million to patent holding firm VirnetX in 2016 over protocol patents; $368 million again to VirnetX in 2013; and more recently, the company has had to payout $502.6 million over four communication patents.
Due to the store closures, retails employees would have been greatly impacted in the area if Apple had not offered new positions within the company. Today, Apple employs 1,000 people in the Dallas-For Worth area, an increase of 33 percent over the past five years.
In a statement, Apple representative confirmed the stores' closures, but did not provide commentary on Apple's motives for closure:
“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.”