1st Half 2017: Patent Dispute Report


Total 1H 2017 patent disputes decreased 4% compared 1H 2016. District court cases decreased 12% compared to the same time last year.   At the PTAB, however, new petitions increased 16% from 1H 2016.

The TC Heartland May 22nd decision appears to have dramatically shifted cases from E.D. Texas. Delaware has become the popular district court venue post-Heartland. Despite these shifts in venue, NPE activity continues to account for nearly 90% of all new High Tech litigation.

Figure 1: Total patent disputes held relatively stable compared to 1H 2016 and 2H 2016.


Figure 2: The PTAB increased its lead over the E.D. Texas as the most popular patent dispute venue.  E.D. Texas was still the most popular district court venue.

Figure 3: Since TC Heartland, parties appear to be shifting away from filing in E.D. Texas and moved to DED and ND Cal.   The numbers are very similar to ones predicted by our Quantitative Assessment published immediately after the decision which was based on an academic paper.

Figures 4 & 5: 2017 share of cases filed in E.D. Texas decreased by 50% post-TC Heartland, from 34% (542/1582) to  17% (55/320).  DED share of cases almost doubled, while N.D. Ca increased as well.

*The Court’s opinion in TC Heartland issued on May 22, 2017. Although this shift in venue is consistent with predictions, some fluctuations should be anticipated due to the short time that has passed since the decision. 

Figure 6: High Tech continues to see the most patent disputes at district court and the PTAB.



Figure 7: 1H 2017 has seen approximately 12% fewer district court cases filed than 1H 2016.

Figure 8: Most district court cases focus on High Tech.

Figure 9: NPEs account for nearly 90% of all 1H 2017 High Tech patent litigation.

Figure 10:  PAEs brought two-thirds of High Tech patent litigations in 1H 2017.



Figure 12: The PTAB received more new petitions in 1H 2017 than any previous 6 months. This includes 414 challenges against NPE-owned patents, a 20% increase over the 340 NPE-owned patents challenged in the first half of 2016.  For more historical data, visit our portal.

Figure 13: Over two-thirds of 1H 2017 PTAB petitions challenged High Tech patents. For more on these 1H 2017 cases, visit our portal

Figure 14: About half of all challenged High Tech patents were owned by PAEs. For further analysis of these High Tech cases, visit our portal

Figure 15: Inter partes review (IPR) remains by far the most popular type of PTAB proceeding.

Figure 16: Unified Patents was the #8 most active Petitioner at PTAB in the first half of 2017. For the complete list of top parties, visit our portal

Figure 17: Comcast filed 31 IPRs against Rovi Guides, a well-known NPE, making Rovi the most challenged Patent Owner in the first half of 2017 (and Comcast the most frequent Petitioner). 




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

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 June 30, 2017.

Statistics include litigation 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.