PWC’s 2012 Patent Litigation Study is out and it tells an interesting story. Cases are up, but median damages are down. Here are some of the key findings:
- Patent litigation filings hit a record 4,015 case filings in 2011. I would expect an even greater increase in suits filed in 2012, the first year of the AIA’s joinder restriction.
- Median awards to trolls are significantly greater - nearly double over the last decade - than awards to practicing entities.
- Median damages awards have decreased dramatically from the first half of the 2000’s to the second half - from $8.7M to $4.0M.
- The 2000’s saw a significant up-tick in the use of juries. 55.2% of trials in the 2000’s were to juries.
- While jury win rates are slowly decreasing, over the last six years plaintiffs have won 76% of jury trials.
- Plaintiffs’ bench trial win rates increased to 59.3%.
- Median jury awards are far larger than judges’ awards - $8.7M compared to $400K.
- More than 80% of awards are reasonable royalties.
- A larger percentage (58.4%) of troll cases are decided by summary judgment than practicing entity cases (52.3%).
- Trolls have significantly lower success rates (approximately 15%) in technology sectors relevant to retailers.
- Time to trial is staying relatively steady at about 2.5 years nationwide.
- 38% of decisions involving trolls were concentrated in five districts: E.D. Tex.; N.D. Ill.; S.D. New York; N.D. California and D. Delaware.
What do retailers take away from these trends?
- Patent litigation, and troll litigation, continues to grow. The trend of increased cost and distraction from troll cases is not slowing down.
- The decrease in median damages may suggest that judges and juries are taking a harder look at shoot-for-the-moon damages demands. This may suggest that all of the publicity from patent reform is positively impacting at least damages awards.
- Summary judgment is a strategy valid with almost 60% of cases resolved on summary judgment.