A recent report shows interesting trends in US patent litigation:
- 5,002 patent infringement cases were filed in the US in 2014, up from 2,641 filed in 2010;
- Of those cases filed, the majority (61%) were commenced by NPEs (non-practicing entities), which is a neutral term to describe what are commonly referred to as ‘patent trolls’;
- Of those NPEs, the overwhelming majority (82%) are PAEs (patent assertion entities), which can be defined as ”firms with a business model based primarily on buying patents and then attempting to generate revenue by asserting them against businesses that are already practicing the patented technologies;”
- Most of this activity (patent litigation by PAEs) took place in the high-tech sector; in that sector, 83% of the patent litigation was related to NPEs of one kind or another, and involved claims against large (non-SME) companies. This figure shows the extent to which IT and software patents have become a fixture in a kind of parallel patent infringement economy, in which patent battles are not fought between market competitors (such as Samsung and Apple) but are essentially rearguard actions by legitimate businesses against entities whose only function is to assert patent rights.