NPE Activity: eRetail Litigation Report

Table 1a: NPEs filed over 600 new cases in the eRetail zone in 2015.

NPE litigation in the eRetail zone has increased dramatically over the last several years. From January 1, 2012 to September 30, 2015, Unified studied patent infringement actions against the largest in-store and online retailers with particular emphasis on those cases filed by known or suspected NPEs.

NPE Litigation in eRetail Zone since 201220122013201420150200400600800

The study demonstrated that instances of NPE litigation in the eRetail zone increased by 33.6 percent between 2014 and 2015. In addition, litigation in 2015 is set to exceed previous record-highs with already 608 new NPE cases having been initiated before the fourth quarter.

Table 1b: The number of patent-assertion campaigns has remained consistently high.

NPE Litigation Campaigns 2012-2015201220132014201508152330
YearNPE Campaigns

Despite the increase in litigation numbers, patent-assertion campaigns have remained relatively consistent since 2012. For purposes of this study, a "campaign" was defined as an instance where an NPE asserted the same patent in three or more cases. In 2015, the largest NPE campaign involved 101 separate actions (eDekka), while the smallest only involved 5 actions (Coqui Technologies).

Table 2: Litigation related to eCommerce has increased much more rapidly than other categories in the eRetail zone.

eRetail Litigation since 2012 by CategoryBack-endRetail/StorefronteComme…20122013201420150200400600800

As demonstrated by the chart above, NPE litigation in Back-end has sharply declined since 2012-2013 while eCommerce litigation has dramatically increased. Instances of litigation in the Retail/Storefront sector have also increased, but these numbers remain relatively small in comparison to eCommerce and Back-end. A more detailed explanation of these categories can be found in Unified's eRetail Zone Definition.

Table 3a: In 2015, eCommerce was targeted in an overwhelming 81.1% of all eRetail cases.

eRetail Litigation in 2015eCommerceRetail/StorefrontBack-end12.5%81.1%

Table 3b: This represents a proportional increase of nearly 23.1% in eCommerce litigation since 2012.

eRetail Litigation in 2012eCommerceRetail/StorefrontBack-end38.8%58%

Table 4: Top 10 Operating Companies litigated against in the eRetail zone since 2012*

  1. Target (27)
  2. Wal-Mart (16)
  3. Nordstrom (15)
  4. Walgreens (13)
  5. Amazon (13)
  6. Staples (12)
  7. Office Depot (12)
  8. Williams-Sonoma (12)
  9. Kohl's (11)
  10. Best Buy (11)

*This list includes only first-named defendants

Table 5: Top 10 NPE litigants in the eRetail zone since 2012

  1. ArrivalStar S.A. (263)
  2. eDekka (251)
  3. Data Carriers (195)
  4. Eclipse IP (160)
  5. TQP Development (144)
  6. Pragmatus Telecom (84)
  7. Clear with Computers (75)
  8. Pi-Net International (69)
  9. UbiComm (61)
  10. Lodsys (59)

These 10 NPEs account for 59.3% of all eRetail litigation in 2012-2015.


Unified looked at all major retailers having either physical and/or online storefront locations.
Total number of reported cases can vary. Unified made its best attempt to eliminate mistaken or duplicative filings.
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.


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.

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 or controlled by an individual inventor who is primarily focused on monetizing inventions patents by that individual inventor.