2017 NPE Activity Report: Cloud Litigation


In stark contrast to recent filing trends, the volume of Cloud litigation increased more than 33% from 339 cases (between 2014 and 2015) to 454 cases (between 2016-2017) during the same period that overall patent litigation posted a 42% decrease.  From 2012 to 2017, NPE litigation activity for cloud technologies remained consistently high (greater than 92% of all cloud litigation) and amounted to a total of 1,058 cases over the last 5 years. Notably,  Cloud litigation involving Storage & Synchronization increased from 7% (2016) to 27% (2017). For more information about our Cloud zone, see our zone definition.

Figure 1: Year to year, NPEs consistently account for over 92% of all cloud litigation.

Figure 2: While overall patent litigation has steadily declined since 2015, cloud litigation in 2016 and 2017 is well above the volume of new cases seen in 2015 and earlier. For full patent litigation data, visit our Public Portal.

Figures 3: From 2016 to 2017, litigation involving Storage & Synchronization technologies increased 20% and File Hosting & Sharing litigation increased 5%.

Figure 4: From 2012-2017, litigation involving access systems (i.e. network, web, mobile, security systems) have been the most widely litigated in the cloud zone. 


The following designations are used to identify entities involved in patent disputes. Aggregators such as IP Edge and Dominion Harbor are counted as PAEs but because of obscure ownership we do not break them out.

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.


Statistics include litigations initiated by NPEs or Declaratory Judgments (DJs) initiated by operating companies against NPEs.

Total number of reported cases can vary. Unified made its best attempt to eliminate mistaken or duplicative filings.

Unified strives to accurately identify NPEs through all available means, such as court filings, public documents, and product documentation.