2015 Saw the Most Patent Disputes in History
Figure 1: Patent disputes grew 13% in 2015 compared to 2014.*.
*ITC investigations begun in the years 2012–2015 ranged between 35-40 per year, and were not included because they were neither generally variable, nor significant due to the small sample size.
Figure 2: Total patent disputes in Q4 of 2015 increased 20% compared to Q4 of 2014.
Patent Litigation by Industry
Figure 3: The majority (64%) of patent litigation in 2015 involved high-tech patents (i.e., patents covering technologies related to computing or consumer electronics) that were asserted against high-tech and non-tech companies.
Figure 4: And the high-tech sector led in PTAB filings as well.
Figure 5: Eastern District of Texas was the top patent dispute venue in 2015. 44% of all patent litigation was filed in E.D. Texas, the vast majority of which were assigned to a single judge.
District Court Litigation
Figure 6: 2015 had the second highest number of cases filed in history. Filings increased 15% over 2014.
Figure 7: NPE litigation made up two-thirds (66.9%) of District Court cases initiated in 2015, compared to 61% in 2014.
Figure 8: Q4 2015 filings increased 26% from both Q3 2015 and Q4 2014.
Figure 9: NPEs initiated 95% of cases in the E.D.Tex, the largest venue for patent litigation.
Figure 10: High-tech was the only sector where a majority of cases were NPE-related.
*Cases filed by entities other than NPEs or Operating Companies comprise less than 10 total cases and not included here.
Figure 11: NPEs were involved in over 92% of all 2015 high-tech cases, a 10% increase over 2014.
Figure 12: PAEs were the source of almost all (92%) NPE cases.
Figure 13: PAEs were 94% of the NPE cases in high-tech.
Figure 14: The top 10 asserting entities filed 82% of their litigations in the Eastern District of Texas.
Figure 15: There were 1797 PTAB petitions in 2015, a 7% increase over 2014.
Figure 16: Q4 2015 saw a 9% decrease compared to Q3 2015, and a 20% decrease from Q4 2014.
Figure 17: 41.5% of petitions filed in 2015 were against NPE-owned patents.
PTAB Petitions by Industry
Figure 18: 59% of PTAB petitions in 2015 were high-tech related.
Figure 19: 60% of high-tech PTAB Petitions were filed against NPE patent owners.
Figure 20: 92% of those high-tech petitions were against patent assertion entities.
Figure 21: Inter partes reviews (IPRs) account for 92% of all PTAB Petitions filed in 2015.
High-tech = Technologies relating to Software, Hardware, and Networking
Medical = Technologies relating to Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices, Health Related Technologies
Other = Technologies relating to Mechanical, Packaged Goods, Sporting Equipment and any other area outside of high-tech and medical patents.
Non Practicing Entity (NPE) = Company which derives the majority of its total revenue from Patent Licensing activities.
Operating Company or Op. Co. = Company which derives most of its total revenue from Product Sales or Services. Could be an SME or a large company.
Other Entity = Universities / Non-Profits / Government / Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
NPE (patent assertion entities) = Entity whose primary activity is licensing patents and acquired most of its patents from another entity
NPE (small company) = Entity whose original activity was providing products and services, but now is primarily focused on monetizing its own patent portfolio.
NPE (individual) = Entity owned of controlled by an individual inventor who is primarily focused on monetizing inventions patents by that individual inventor.
SME = Companies that make less than $200 million in annual revenue.
Venue in Federal District Court
TXED = Eastern District of Texas
DED = Delaware
CACD = Central District of California
NJD = New Jersey
CAND = Northern District of California
Total number of reported cases can vary based on what is included. Unified made its best attempt to eliminate mistaken, duplicative, or changes in venue filings, hence the totals may vary slightly compared to other reporting entities.
This includes all District Court and PTAB litigations between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
Statistics include litigations initiated by NPEs or Declaratory Judgments (DJs) initiated by operating companies against NPEs.
Unified strives to accurately identify NPEs through all available means, such as court filings, public documents, and product documentation.