In 2011 Congress directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the effects of non-practicing entities (NPEs) on patent litigation. The GAO turned to Lex Machina’s extensive data set on patent cases to carry out the study and to illuminate the role that these NPEs have played over the last five years.
Relying on Lex Machina’s data, the GAO’s analysis of a representative sample of 500 lawsuits from 2007 to 2011 concluded that the number of overall defendants in patent infringement lawsuits increased by about 129 percent over this period. Although only responsible for about a fifth of patent cases over the same period, NPEs, the report concluded, accounted for about half of the overall increase in defendants. Moreover, lawsuits involving software-related patents accounted for about 89 percent of the increase in defendants over this period. The increase in NPE litigation was especially marked in certain jurisdictions with heavy patent litigation, like the Eastern District of Texas.