Patent litigation held steady in 2006, but was it the calm before the storm? The top firms in our seventh annual patent litigation survey showed only a slight bump up in work last year. In 2006 total U.S. filings reached 2,830, up 4 percent from 2,720 in 2005, though still shy of 2004′s 3,075 cases, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. But lawyers are already bracing themselves for a new wave of patent litigation following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in KSR v. Teleflex. Combined with the justices’ other recent patent rulings and the potential for patent reform in 2007, the litigation landscape has suddenly been transformed into uncharted territory.

Our survey is simple but instructive. It is quantitative, showing the most active firms based on the number of patent cases a firm filed in 2006 that were still active as of Feb. 1, 2007. It does not reflect the quality of a firm’s work, nor cases that might have been settled in that period. It also is blind to whether a case required sporadic attention from a single attorney or teams of lawyers billing around the clock. But the rankings do provide a sense of which firms are taking on the most new work.