Patent litigation report: ‘22% decline in case filings’

Research firm Lex Machina’s fourth annual ‘Patent Litigation Year in Review Report’ showed a 22% decline in patent filings in 2016.

“We found some interesting and surprising results in this year’s data, including a fairly dramatic decline in case filings across many of the top districts,” said Owen Byrd, general counsel of Lex Machina.

“While it’s too soon to tell whether the decline represents a sea change or a one-year anomaly, we will certainly be keeping a close eye on filing numbers in the year to come.”

The report said 4,537 patent cases were filed in 2016 — a 22% decline from the 5,819 cases in 2015.

It said patent filings were down in all Top 10 districts except the Northern District of Illinois (+51.5%), the Southern District of California (+13.8%) and the Southern District of Florida (+0.8%).

And while the Eastern District of Texas continued to lead the nation with 1,662 cases — nearly 37% of all cases filed — that was a 34% decrease over the district’s 2015 total of 2,541 cases.

In the Eastern District of Texas, 1,119 of the 1,662 cases were brought before Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who saw more new patent cases than the next 10 highest ranking judges.

Samsung again led LG Electronics and Apple as the most sued patent defendant in 2016.

Tech and pharmaceutical companies comprised the top 10, with Amazon, Asus, Actavis and AT&T among the top patent defendants.

The report said the 15 parties that filed the most patent lawsuits in 2016 were all patent monetization entities (PMEs) except Whirlpool Corporation, ranked at 15.

It said Shipping and Transit, formerly known as ArrivalStar (107 cases), Uniloc (87 cases) and Sportbrain Holdings (75 cases) filed more patent suits than the next eight companies combined.

The report concluded: “Compensatory damages remain low, amounting to a mere 1.8 % of the terminated cases filed since the year 2000.”