According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) 2013 Patent Litigation Study, 2012 was a “banner year for patent infringement litigation.”

There were 5,189 patent litigation filings last year, a 29 percent increase over the number of 2011 filings. Part of the reason for the uptick was a provision in the America Invents Act that limits the number of defendants that could be named in a single suit. The provision caused a boost in the overall number of suits targeting single defendants.

NPEs filed more than half of 2012’s patent suits, and their power isn’t waning. According to PwC, in the past 12 years, the median damages award for NPEs has averaged twice the median damages award for practicing entities.

Additionally, the number of damages awards exceeding $1 billion jumped last year. Before 2012, only three patent cases ever surpassed the $1 billion mark in damages awarded. But last year alone, three cases each resulted in more than $1 billion.

PwC doesn’t anticipate that patent litigation will slow down anytime soon. “Patent infringement litigation shows no sign of waning,” PwC Partner Chris Barry told the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. “Companies … need to be aware and prepared for this growing trend as they plan for the coming years.”

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