Patents play an ever more integral role in today’s economy, resulting in an increase in patent infringement suits and declaratory judgment actions as patent holders fight to enforce their rights. Nationally, over 2500 patent infringement lawsuits were filed per year in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Patents provide value to their holders in varying contexts. Start-ups and established corporations use patents for a variety of purposes, including securing venture capital funding, solidifying a position in the marketplace, and maintaining a monopoly on innovation. Moreover, both practicing and non-practicing patent owners enforce their exclusive rights via licensing and litigation. As companies look to secure market share through their patent portfolios and non-practicing entities strive to maintain control over their patents for strategic purposes, the legal world has witnessed a corresponding increase in patent litigation.
The resulting law suits can have enormous economic consequences for alleged infringers. An expensive and time-intensive patent infringement suit can put a company out of business with legal fees, block its key products from the marketplace, or harm its national reputation.