Lex Machina is excited to announce the release of its Copyright and Trademark Litigation Report 2021. The report compares data across the three-year time period from the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2020 and examines the latest trends and insights from copyright and trademark litigation.

As this report includes two practice areas, it includes two defined data sets. Copyright cases include claims for copyright infringement brought under 17 USC § 101. Trademark cases include one or more claims under § 43 of the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1125), including trademark infringement, false designation of origin, false advertising, trademark dilution, cybersquatting, or unfair competition.

Copyright Highlights

  • Copyright filings peaked in 2015 and 2018 due to large numbers of file sharing cases. There was a drop-off in filings between 2019 and 2020, likely due to the pandemic, as well as a drop-off in case filings by the Liebowitz Law Firm.
  • The Southern District of New York tops the copyright list over the last three years with 2,438 cases due to the enormous number of filings by the Liebowitz Law Firm.
  • The top two copyright plaintiffs, Strike 3 Holdings, LLC and Malibu Media, LLC, are adult film companies accusing defendants of pirating their content.
  • The most active plaintiffs’ law firm in copyright cases was Fox Rothschild with 1,993 cases, due to a large number of file sharing cases filed on behalf of Strike 3 Holdings, LLC in 2018. The most active defendants’ law firm in copyright cases was Davis Wright Tremaine, which defended 208 copyright lawsuits in the last three years.
  • In cases terminated in the last three years, copyright cases resolved with a settlement 82% of the time, one of the largest proportions of settlements in any Lex Machina practice area.

Trademark Highlights

  • While trademark case filings generally held steady between 2016 and 2019, they had the lowest number of filings of the last decade in 2020 with 3,778 cases (a 14% decrease from the year before).
  • As policies and strategies have changed, federal dilution claims have dropped 54% in the last decade and cybersquatting claims have dropped 50%.
  • The Northern District of Illinois, with 1,475 cases, was the most active district for trademark cases due to the large number of mass counterfeiting cases filed there.
  • The top two trademark plaintiffs were Sream, Inc. and Roor International BV, which are often co-plaintiffs in lawsuits alleging infringement of their ROOR brand glass water pipes.
  • The most active plaintiffs’ law firm in trademark cases was Greer, Burns & Crain with 578 cases, which filed a large number of mass counterfeiting cases in the Northern District of Illinois. The most active defendants’ law firm in trademark cases was Covington & Burling with 129 cases, because it was the defense counsel in the opioid cases in the Northern District of Ohio.
  • Trademark cases only resolved with a settlement 56% of the time due to the high number of default judgments (15% of cases resolved with a default judgment).
  • Findings and damages on default are extremely common in these practice areas. In the last three years, nearly $2.3 billion in statutory damages under the Copyright Act and $4.9 billion in statutory damages under the Lanham act were awarded on default.

Increase in Mass Counterfeiting cases


View our copyright infographic and trademark infographic

The report includes data-driven insights into the behavior of courts, judges, parties, and law firms. Legal analytics is used for planning, forecasting, and litigation strategy. The metrics in this report may help readers decide who to pursue as clients, whether to pursue a particular motion, or when to settle. This research supplements traditional legal research and anecdotal data for a competitive edge in litigation.

On June 3, 2021, Lex Machina hosted a discussion of the report with Doug Panzer, Partner at Caesar Rivise, Patrick Arnold, Shareholder at McAndrews, and report author, Rachel Bailey. It was moderated by Neil Magenheim.

View a recording of the webcast.

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