Litigation Activity Update: Transport Zone 2017


Breaking with the trend from previous years, litigation in the Transport zone (f/k/a Automotive) has increased in 2017. From 2012 to 2016, litigation in the Transport zone has followed the trend of overall patent litigation, which peaked in 2013 and gradually decreased since then. However, Transport zone litigation in 2017 has already surpassed totals for 2016, due in large part to an increased number of assertions targeting automotive electronics and infotainment systems.

Figure 1: General litigation v. Transport litigation


In 2017, every technology (other than Safety) has already equaled or surpassed the total number of cases litigated in 2016. Notably, litigation involving automotive electronics and powertrain technologies has dramatically increased since 2016. For more information about these categories, view our Transport zone definition.

Figure 2: 2012-2017 Transport litigation by technology

Similar to 2016, infotainment systems are the among the most frequently litigated automotive patents, representing approximately 34 percent of all Transport cases in 2017.

Figure 3: 2017 Transport litigation by technology


NPEs continue to pose a serious risk to automotive companies and account for 71 percent of litigation in 2017.

Figure 4: Transport litigation by asserting entity type

The top 5 plaintiffs for litigation in the Transport zone are all well-known NPEs. Geographic Location Innovations (#4) is the owner of U.S. Patent 7,917,285, which Unified challenged in an IPR filed earlier this month.

Figure 5: 2017's most frequent plaintiffs for the Transport zone

  1. Somaltus (10)
  2. Blitzsafe Texas (8)
  3. Intellectual Ventures II (7)
  4. Geographic Location Innovations (6)
  5. Blue Sky Networks (5)


Unified looked at all major Automotive manufacturers and the top 10 Automotive suppliers by revenue since 2012.
Total number of reported cases can vary. Unified made its best attempt to eliminate mistaken or duplicative filings.
Statistics include litigations initiated by NPEs or Declaratory Judgments (DJs) initiated by operating companies against NPEs.
Unified strives to accurately identify NPE through all available means, such as court filings, public documents, and product documentation.


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.
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.