Apple, Amazon Top Patent Targets in 2013

Apple, Amazon Top Patent Targets in 2013

Lex Machina, a provider of patent litigation data and analytics, released “Lex Machina 2013 Patent Litigation Year in Review” today. The free report is the first of a series of annual reports on U.S. patent litigation, according to Owen Byrd the company’s chief evangelist and general counsel.

The report draws from public data obtained from U.S. federal courts (PACER or Public Access to Court Electronic Records) and the International Trade Commission (EDIS or Electronic Document Information System), analyzed using Lex Machina’s Legal Analytics, and reported on the company’s Web application.

Lex Machina identified 6,092 new patent cases filed in U.S. district courts in 2013 compared to the 5,418 cases filed in 2012—a 12.4 percent increase. Legal Analytics technology analyzes patent complaints filed in PACER, but does not “blindly” rely on the Cause-of-Action and Nature-of-Suit codes in the federal court system. Byrd told LTN that CoA and NoS codes can be inaccurate, requiring a mix of automated and manual review to correct them. Lex Machina also normalizes plaintiff, defendant and firms names. For example, said Byrd, there are 80 to 90 different spelling variations of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in documents filed in PACER.

In the annual report, the absolute fastest time to trial was clocked in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Penn., but there were relatively few cases to validate its claim as a “rocket docket” (23) compared to the 1,336 cases filed in the U.S. District Court for the Distrcit of Delaware and the 1,495 cases filed in the the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The time to trial and time to determination are critical pieces of information to a patent infringement filer, said Byrd. And in the next few weeks, the company aims to calculate and report on the time to a Markman hearing, a pretrial hearing in district court when the judge examines evidence on the appropriate meanings of key words in patent claims.

Other highlights from the 2013 report include:

• Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas was assigned the most new cases (941) followed by his colleague from the same district, Judge Leonard Stark (399).

• Gilstrap wrote a heroic 15 merit decisions, which tied him with two judges from the District of Delaware.

• Fish & Richardson led all national law firms with 308 open cases; Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell lead all Delaware firms with 604 open cases; and Ward & Smith lead all Texas firms with 245 open cases.

• 4,917 patents were at issue in all filed cases and, of these, 3,032 (61 percent) were not litigated in the last 10 years.

• The top ten plaintiffs filing the most patent cases were patent monetization entitites, popularly known as “patent trolls.”

• The top targets for patent infringement: Apple, Amazon.

Lex Machina does not wait for annual reports to release information. The company’s blog routinely publishes interesting findings from Legal Analytics. For example, the post “Patent Reform Proposal Sparks Major Jump in New Case Filings,” detailed the surge in patent filings after the release of an “informally proposed amendment” to the current patent reform bill, which aims to set April 24 as a cutoff date for retroactive fee-shifting provisions in patent infringment cases.

Byrd said the first annual report does not provide data on individual attorneys. That information will be included in a separate report to be published later this year.

The report is a free download. Byrd said the company’s goal for the report, as for all the data available from Lex Machina’s technology, is to “enable attorneys to better practice law.”

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