A new patent litigation study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the U.S. court system could soon improve the quality of patents and cut down on rampant infringement litigation.

According to the study, from 2010 to 2011, the number of patent infringement lawsuits increased by about one third. The increase was likely due to anticipated changes in the America Invents Act, which overhauled the U.S. patent system. Among the changes were new rules limiting the number of defendants that could be included in a lawsuit, which caused some plaintiffs to file multiple suits against multiple plaintiffs instead of lumping them together in one suit.

According to Claims Journal, experts say the increase in suits is tied to three factors:

  1. The prevalence of patents with unclear property rights
  2. The potential for large monetary awards from the courts
  3. Patents are now recognized as a more valuable asset

The study reported that the U.S. court system is implementing new initiatives to improve how patent cases are handled, including a patent pilot program that will encourage expertise in patent cases, as well as new rules that will reduce the time and cost of litigation.

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