Over the last few months, you’ve likely been bombarded with news about patent infringement lawsuits filed by non-practicing entities, also known as patent trolls, rising in the U.S. But, as of late, that increase has sharply declined.

So far in 2014, according to Lex Machina, there has been a significant decline in the number of patent litigation case filings.  Back in January 2013, there were 490 new patent complaints filed, while the number of patent cases filed in January 2014 was just 322. These numbers represent a whopping 34.3 percent drop in the number of new patent filings year to year – the lowest number of patent litigations since 2011.

Recent data also suggests that the number of new patent lawsuits filed in February 2014 was also lower than during February 2013. During February 2013, according to Lex Machina, there were 548 new patent cases filed. And, the number of new patent cases filed during February 2014 was 456, a decline of 16.8 percent. Additionally, during the first two months of 2013 a total of 1,038 patent cases were filed, while the number of patent cases filed during the first two months of 2014 was just 778, a 25 percent decline.  

Although it is too soon to know if trend will stick, it raises questions about whether the patent legislation pending in the U.S. Senate is necessary. The currently patent legislation, which has been approved by the House of Representatives, relates to reforms of the patent litigation process.

According to IP Watchdog, this gives credence to the position of the AIPLA as explained by Executive Director Q. Todd Dickinson when he testified on the Hill about patent reform in December.  Dickinson stated, “What is still under serious debate is how well the available data supports the conclusions of these studies, which are often based on confidential information and surveys.”

In addition, Dickinson pointed out that the new post-grant proceedings ushered in by the America Invents Act (AIA) were “are expected to decrease abusive patent litigation practices by reducing the issuance of low quality patents and by providing a lower-cost administrative procedure for challenging.


For more on patent litigation, check out these articles:

IP: Should the Supreme Court address claim construction in patent cases?

Recent developments in patent damages cases

IP: Subject matter conflicts of interest in patent prosecution – Training your team

IP: Finding the factors in enforcement and monetization of patent assets