E-commerce patents can be expected to spawn a growing number of high-stakes lawsuits in the next few years, due in part to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s scanty review of business methods prior art, intellectual property lawyers said in a survey released late last month.

The “pulse survey,” the first conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers at its annual Intellectual Property Leadership Forum, polled around 130 IP lawyers — both in-house and outside counsel — judges, and academics to find out whether IP has a future and, if so, at what price. The conference draws attorneys from industry giants like Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and Intel Corp., as well as representatives from such mega-firms as Kirkland & Ellis and O’Melveny & Myers, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IP Disputes Practice Leader (for the Americas Theater) Keith Ugon said. Among the most striking findings, Ugon said, were predictions of not only more litigation in the next few years, but more high-dollar damage awards.

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