A new study out of UC-Hastings College of the Law reports that patent litigation from non-practicing entities now comprises the majority of patent lawsuits in the United States.

In 2012, 56 percent of patent lawsuits were filed by "patent monetization entities," up from 24 percent in 2007, according to the study, The America Invents Act Expanded: The Effects of Patent Monetization Entities.

The study was conducted by Sara Jeruss, director of legal analytics at Lex Machina, Robin Feldman, Hastings professor and director of the school’s Institute for Innovation Law, and Tom Ewing. They looked at 30,000 cases and almost 30,000 patents that were litigated in 2007–2008 and 2011–2012. It was an expanded version of a previous study that examined a sample of 500 cases between 2007 and 2011.

Additionally, of the 10 plaintiffs filing the greatest number of lawsuits in the years studied, nine were deemed to be PMEs, according to the study.

Other findings include PMEs suing a total of 6,208 defendants in 2011 compared to 1,809 in 2008, suggesting "an increase in litigation activity, rather than simply an increase in the number of cases filed." That number fell to 4,475 in 2012, however.

The study also found that most of the litigated patents were recently filed, with over 1,200 patents being asserted within six months of approval, suggesting that "people are increasingly applying for patents with the intent of filing lawsuits, rather than making products."

Contact the reporter at jsisco@alm.com.