Q1 2018: Patent Dispute Report


Patent litigation in Q1 2018 held steady with the number of new filings slightly exceeding the volume of cases seen in the second half of 2017. In recent years, the number of new filings has been highest in the first and second quarters which may indicate we will see fewer patent litigations in 2018. However, the uncertainty surrounding upcoming changes in patent law, such as the pending Oil States Supreme Court decision, may be in part responsible for these lower filing rates. Whatever the cause, the volume of NPE-related filings remains high as is seen in the figures below.

Figure 1: Assuming current trends continue, the volume of patent litigation in 2018 is expected to be slightly below the number of new filings in 2017. District Court patent litigation is now available in Unified's Public Portal. Visit the Portal today to see all District Court and PTAB filings for 2018. 

Figure 2:  Parties filed approximately 900 new patent cases in District Court in Q1 2018, on par with the number of filings per quarter in 2017.

Figure 3: For the first time since 2012, the Eastern District of Texas was not the most common district court venue. Post-TC Heartland, Delaware has seen a dramatic increase in filings while the PTAB remains the most common venue for patent disputes overall. 

Figure 4: The High Tech industry continues to see the largest volume of patent disputes at both the District Court and the PTAB.

District Court

Figure 5: Assuming current trends continue, NPE litigation in District Court is expected to approximately match the number of new filings in 2017. Visit Unified's Public Portal for full case details on District Court patent litigation. 

Figure 6: The proportion of NPE filings decreased in 2018 compared to previous years, however NPE related filings remain high (over 45% of all district court litigation).

Figure 7: About half of all district court cases involve High Tech patents.

Figure 8: Almost all NPEs asserted in the High-Tech space.

Figure 9: NPEs account for over 83% of all Q1 patent suits enforcing High Tech patents.  Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) brought nearly 60% of all High-Tech litigations.

PTAB Disputes

Figure 10: Assuming current trends continue, the volume of NPE litigation at PTAB is expected to remain steady. Of course, these estimates may change once the Supreme Court issues its decision in the Oil States litigation.

Figure 11: The PTAB received approximately 400 new petitions in Q1 2018, matching the number of new cases seen in recent quarters. Detailed records for each of these cases is available on Unified’s Public Portal along with various tools to filter and analyze these cases.

Figure 12: Over 60% of Q1 PTAB petitions were filed to challenge High Tech patents. For more, visit our Portal.

Figure 13: Most High Tech patents challenged at PTAB were owned by PAEs. To look at High Tech or other industries in more detail, visit Unified's Public Portal.

Figure 14: Inter partes review (IPR) remains by far the most popular type of PTAB proceeding.

Figure 15: LG was the most frequent petitioner in Q1 2018. Its petitions mostly targeted patents owned by Fundamental Innovations Systems International, LLC and Wi-Lan, two of the “Q1 2018: Top 10 Patent Owners” and well known NPEs. For a complete list of top parties and top law firms at the PTAB, visit Unified's Public Portal

Figure 16: Nine out of the ten most-challenged Patent Owners at PTAB in Q1 2018 were NPEs. Most of these NPEs are well-known Patent Assertion Entities.



  • 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

  • DED = Delaware
  • TXED = Eastern District of Texas
  • CAND = Northern District of California
  • CACD = Central District of California
  • NJD = New Jersey
  • NDIL = Northern District of Illinois
  • SDNY = Southern District of New York
  • TXND = Northern District of Texas


This report includes all District Court and PTAB litigations between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2018.

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. 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.