2018 Patent Dispute Report: Year in Review


Patent litigation in 2018 decreased by 5% overall compared to 2017 due to a drop in the number of new filings at both the district court and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). However, this decrease is proportionally smaller compared to previous years which may indicate that the volume of new patent disputes is leveling out. Despite the general downward trend in 2018, the number of patent disputes involving Medical companies increased for the first time since 2015.



Figure 1: More than 5,100 new patent disputes were filed in 2018, about a 5% decrease in district court and PTAB filings compared to 2017. View all District Court and PTAB litigation on our Portal.

Figure 2: The number of new patent disputes has remained steady since Q3 2017.

Figure 3: In 2018, the PTAB was the most common venue for patent disputes overall, having received more new patent disputes than the top three district courts combined.

Figure 4: At the PTAB and District Court, High-Tech disputes continue to dominate. View High Tech litigation on Unified’s Portal.

District Court

Figure 5: NPEs initiated about 55% (1,871 cases) of all 2018 District Court litigation.

Figure 6: Q4 2018 litigation was similar to Q3 2018 and Q4 2017 numbers. View all 2018 District court litigation in Unified’s Portal.

Figure 7: High-Tech companies were most frequent District Court defendants. View this data in Unified’s Portal.

Figure 8: More than 90% of all NPE District Court litigation targeted High-Tech. Conversely, High-Tech companies were involved in less than 15% of all other (non-NPE) litigation.

Figure 9: Nearly 60% of High Tech litigation is attributed to Patent Assertion Entities (i.e., entities that purchase patents for the primary purpose of monetization). Lawsuits by NPEs operated by an individual were the second largest source of High Tech litigation, accounting for over 25% of new High Tech patent cases in 2018.

PTAB Disputes

Figure 10: The PTAB received over 1,700 new petitions in 2018.  Detailed records for each of these cases is available on Unified’s Public Portal, along with various in-depth filtering and analytical tools.

Figure 11: The number of new petitions filed remained steady throughout 2018 with an average of 430 new petitions each quarter. View all 2018 PTAB disputes on Unified’s Portal.

Figure 12: Approximately 63% of PTAB petitions filed in 2018 challenged patents asserted against High Tech companies. View High Tech PTAB disputes on Unified’s Portal.

Figure 13: About 60% of High Tech patents challenged at PTAB were owned by NPEs. View an interactive version of this data on Unified’s Portal.

Figure 14: Inter partes reviews (IPRs) continue to dominate all PTAB proceedings.

Figure 15: Apple and Samsung were the first and second most frequent IPR filers in 2018, respectively. Unified Patents was the 5th most frequent Petitioner in 2018. Visit the Portal to view all of Unified’s 2018 petitions.

Figure 16: For 2018, 9 out of the 10 most-challenged Patent Owners at PTAB were NPEs. Most of these NPEs are well-known Patent Assertion Entities. View more details on Unified’s Portal.