The topic of non-practicing entities (NPEs) or so-called “patent trolls” is one that has dominated intellectual property news over the past few years. There are some industry experts who believe that the sky is falling, that this problem represents a huge threat to business and innovation. There are others who believe that the problem has been blown out of proportion.

One industry expert, David Kappos, former head of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), feels that the IP community has blown the issue out of proportion, advising caution. But does data back up Kappos’ moderate view of the patent troll problem?

According to a recent study from Patent Freedom, a company that tracks these types of patent lawsuits, patent troll litigation is on the rise. Companies identified as patent trolls sued 11 percent more companies in 2013 than 2012, and filed 18 percent more lawsuits altogether. The study found that trolls filed a total of 3, 134 suits in 2013, which represents more than half of all patent lawsuits. 

Kappos may have been predicating his moderate stance on the fact that patent troll defendants did not increase from 2010 to 2012, though the numbers show that there was a clear increase from 2012 to 2013. Other studies, like those from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicate that patent toll lawsuits rose at a staggering rate, showing a 40 percent increase from 2007 to 2011. In that same time span, the number of defendants tripled.

General counsel and state attorneys general alike have turned their attention to the issue of patent trolls, and an assortment of AGs and GCs will be speaking about the topic at an upcoming roundtable event. The free event will take place on Feb. 4, 2014, from 3:00-5:00 pm at the Intercontinental New York Barclay. It will feature the attorneys general from Nebraska, Missouri and Vermont as well as the general counsel from Walmart, DuPont and Rackspace. For more information, or to register for the event, click here.


For more patent troll news, check out the following:

President Obama pushes Congress to pass anti-patent troll bill

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley looks to slay patent trolls

Top U.S. patent troll sues the government for interfering with its business

Patent troll takes on the FTC