Patent Dispute Report: Q1 2017


At the PTAB, 2017 is off to a record start.  More than 560 petitions were filed in the first quarter of 2017, the highest total since the PTAB’s creation.  See all PTAB cases on Unified's portal.  Rovi / Tivo, an NPE, was the most frequently petitioned patent owner.  The total number of patent suits filed in district courts in Q1 2017 is similar to the total seen in Q1 2016, though Q1 2017 saw a higher rate of suits filed by NPEs.    The Eastern District of Texas saw more cases than all other district courts and saw more NPE cases than all other districts combined.

Figure 1: Q1 2017 district court litigation is stable compared to Q1 2016, but PTAB filings increased significantly. 


Figure 2: The Eastern District of Texas saw more new NPE cases than all other districts combined, and the PTAB was the most popular overall venue.


Figure 3: The High Tech industry continues to see the largest volume of patent disputes at both the District Court and the PTAB.


District Court

Figure 4: Relative to Q1 2016, Q1 2017 saw an increase in NPE suits, but a slight decrease in patent litigation overall. 


Figure 5: Most district court cases continue to focus on High Tech.


Figure 6: NPEs account for almost 90% of all Q1 patent suits enforcing High Tech patents.


Figure 7: Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) brought more than 75% of High Tech patent suits in Q1 2017.


Figure 8: Although PAEs continue to file the overwhelming majority of NPE suits, NPEs controlled by individual inventors filed a larger than average share of NPE suits in Q1 2017 (14.4%, compared to 9.8% in Q1 2016).


PTAB Disputes

Figure 8: The PTAB received a record-setting 561 petitions in Q1 2017, higher than any quarter to date. This total includes 260 challenges filed against NPE-held patents, the most petitions NPEs have faced in any one quarter since 2014.   For more historical data visit our portal.


Figure 9: Almost 75% of petitions challengeed High Tech patents.

Figure 10: Most High Tech challenged patents were owned by PAEs. 

Figure 11: Inter partes review (IPR) remains by far the most popular type of PTAB proceeding. 

Figure 12: Comcast was the most frequent Q1 petitioner.

Figure 13: Three NPEs—Rovi, IP Bridge (Godo Kaisha), and Windy City Innovations—were among the top 5 most challenged Patent Owners. 




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, 2014 and March 31, 2017.

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.