Legal Trends

Patent Litigation Trends in the Three Months after T.C. Heartland

This blog post focuses specifically on patent litigation trends; for a broader discussion of other litigation trends in Q3, see our update here. On May 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in T.C. Heartland, holding unanimously that, under 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) (the statute governing venue in patent suits), a domestic corporation “resides” only in its state of incorporation. Since that landmark decision, patent case filings trends have responded dramatically:  the number of cases filed in the Eastern District of Texas has significantly declined and been overtaken by the number of cases filed in the District of Delaware. Fig. 1:  Top districts by patent cases filed 2014-2017 Q3 Looking at a window of 90 days on either side of the T.C. Heartland, the change is stark.  Before T.C. Heartland more than twice as many cases were filed in E.D. Tex. as D. Del.; but afterwards, it’s less than half.  The number of cases filed outside of the top two districts is very similar.   Fig. 2:  Cases filed 90 days before and after T.C. Heartland Viewing the filing numbers on a week-by-week basis shows that the trend towards Delaware is not the result of a single period of [...]

By | 2017-10-18T22:08:02+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Legal Trends|

Lex Machina Q3 2017 Litigation Update

Patent litigation District Court For a more in-depth consideration of patent litigation trends around the Supreme Court’s landmark T.C. Heartland ruling, see this companion post. 995 patent cases were filed in the third quarter of 2017, a 12.3% decrease from the number of cases filed in last quarter.  A drop from the second to third quarter has occurred in each of the past 4 years.  Relative to the number of cases filed in 2016 through the third quarter, filings in 2017 are down 8.4%.. Figure 2 below shows that 2017 continues the pattern of relatively consistent monthly totals that has persisted since the  dramatic spike in 2015 (caused by the end of Form 18). Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2011 - 2017 Q3, by quarter Fig. 2:  Patent cases filed, 2011 - 2017 Q3, by month The Patent Trial and Appeal Board While the first quarter of 2017 saw a record high number Inter Partes Review (IPR) petitions filed at PTAB (548 petitions), the second quarter and third quarters have each seen a drop in filings (438 petitions in Q2 and 381 in Q3). This crest/trough may be related to the Supreme Court’s granting of certiorari in Oil States Energy [...]

By | 2017-10-18T22:06:02+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Announcements, Legal Trends|

2017 Second Quarter Litigation Update

Patent litigation District Court 1,138 patent cases were filed in the second quarter of 2017, a 18% increase over number of cases filed in the first quarter of 2017.  A similar increase from the first to second quarter has happened in each of the previous 4 years. Although the number of cases filed in the first quarter of 2017 was one of the lowest in the last 5 years, the first half of 2017 only trails 2016’s first half by 7%. Figure 2 below shows that 2017 continues the pattern of relatively consistent monthly totals that has persisted since the  dramatic spike in 2015 (caused by the end of Form 18). Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2011 - 2017 Q2, by quarter   Fig. 2:  Patent cases filed, 2014 - 2017 Q2, by month   In recent years, a large percentage of the patent cases have been filed in the Eastern District of Texas - typically between 30 and 40 percent. However, the share of cases filed in the Eastern District of Texas has significantly declined since the Supreme Court’s opinion in T.C. Heartland (May 22, 2017), as shown in the week-by-week analysis of Figure 4 below.  The District of [...]

By | 2017-10-10T01:44:52+00:00 July 18th, 2017|Analytics Articles, Legal Trends|

SCOTUS Decides TC Heartland Case

On Monday, May 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued a slip opinion in the case TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group LLC (Dkt. No. 16-341). The court unanimously* held that, under 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) (the statute governing venue in patent suits), a domestic corporation “resides” only in its state of incorporation, consistent with its ruling in an earlier case, Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U. S. 222 (1957).  The Court rejected arguments that the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c), which was amended post-Fourco and twice since § 1400, overrode the definition of residence in § 1400(b) with a more expansive one that made residence coextensive with personal jurisdiction.  In doing so, the Court overruled the Federal Circuit’s decision in VE Holding Corp. v. Johnson Gas Appliance Co., 917 F. 2d 1574 (1990). * Justice Gorsuch did not participate in the decision. What Does That Mean and What Did TC Heartland Change? Why is a seemingly technical matter of statutory interpretation so significant? Before this decision, a plaintiff looking to sue a corporation for infringing its patent could choose any jurisdiction where the defendant did significant business.  Large corporations doing business all over the [...]

By | 2017-10-09T20:19:58+00:00 May 24th, 2017|Academic Articles, Legal Trends|

2017 First Quarter Litigation Update

Lex Machina Q1 2017 Litigation Update Patent litigation District Court 938 patent cases were filed in the first quarter of 2017.  This was the lowest per-quarter filings of any quarter since 2011 Q3 (although just barely - there were 963 cases filed in Q1 of 2016).  From last year’s average of 1130 cases per quarter, Q1 is down about 17%. Despite the low volume, case filings rose month-by-month during the first quarter of 2017 (see Fig. 2), and remain within the pattern established in 2016.  Historically, the first quarter has often been lower than the year’s final average. The dramatic spike in 2015, apparent in Figure 2, was caused by the end of Form 18. Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2011 - 2017 Q1, by quarter   Fig. 2:  Patent cases filed, 2014 - 2017 Q1, by month     More patent cases (33% of those filed in 2017 Q1) were filed in the Eastern District of Texas than in any other jurisdiction. The percentage of patent litigation in the Eastern District of Texas had been increasing during the course of 2016, from 30% in the first quarter to 41% in the fourth quarter. The District of Delaware remained the [...]

By | 2017-10-09T20:21:15+00:00 April 12th, 2017|Analytics Articles, Legal Trends|

2016 Fourth Quarter Litigation Update

Patent Litigation District Court In the final quarter of 2016, plaintiffs filed 1,140 patent cases, bringing the total for 2016 to 4,520 patent cases. The fourth quarter represents a slight increase over the third quarter’s 1,126 cases, but overall litigation in 2016 has declined by a moderate 22% from 2015 (when 5,823 cases were filed).  Month by month, 2016 has been relatively consistent compared to the dramatic spike in 2015 caused by the end of Form 18. Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2011 - 2016, by quarter Fig. 2: Patent cases filed, 2011-2016, by year Fig. 3:  Patent cases filed, 2014 - 2016, by month The majority of patent litigation filed in 2016 (36.4% of cases) was filed in the Eastern District of Texas.  The District of Delaware remained the second most frequently used jurisdiction, with just over 10% of cases filed in 2016.   The percentage of cases filed in the Eastern District of Texas has also been increasing, from around 30% in the first quarter, to 40% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Fig. 4:  Top districts by patent cases filed in 2016 Fig. 5:  Eastern District of Texas and District of Delaware, 2014-2016 by quarter To gain [...]

By | 2017-10-09T20:21:58+00:00 January 12th, 2017|Legal Trends|

2016 Third Quarter Litigation Trends

Patent Litigation District Court In the third quarter of 2016, plaintiffs filed 1,127 patent cases.  This total represents an decrease over Q2 (1,289 cases) of 12.6%, but is still higher than the Q1 2016 (960 cases). Looking at the months in the second second quarter more closely (Fig. 2), September (310 cases) was slower than both July (416 cases) and August (401 cases).  Relative to the first three quarters of previous years, 2016 looks to be the slowest year since 2011 (Fig. 3). The proportion of total new filings made in the Eastern District of Texas held nearly steady in Q3 at 35.4% - down slightly from 37% in the second quarter but up from the first quarter (30%) (Fig. 5).  In 2015, for comparison, the district had 43% of the patent cases filed. Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2011 - 2016 Q3, by quarter   Fig. 2:  Patent cases filed, 2014 - 2016 Q3, by month   Fig. 3: Patent cases filed, 2011-2016, Q1-Q3 only, by year   Fig. 4:  Top districts by patent cases filed, 2011-2016 Q3   Fig. 5:  Top districts by patent cases filed, 2016 Q1-Q3   To gain more insight into patent litigation, cases can [...]

By | 2017-10-09T20:26:36+00:00 October 11th, 2016|Legal Trends|

2016 Second Quarter IP Litigation Trends

Patent Litigation District Court In the second quarter of 2016, plaintiffs filed 1,282 patent cases.  This total represents an increase over Q1 (958 cases) of 33%, but remains below the 2015 average of 1456 cases per quarter.   Looking at the second quarter more closely (Fig. 2), more than 450 cases were filed in both April and June, while May saw only 370 cases.  Patent litigation levels appear to have stabilized after the spike-and-trough pattern (seen in November 2015 through February 2016) caused by the rule change on Form 18. The Eastern District of Texas saw an uptick in its proportion of total new filings to 37% in the second quarter of 2016 against the first quarter (30%).  In 2015, for comparison, the district had 43% of the patent cases filed.   Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2012 - 2016 Q2, by quarter   Fig. 2:  Patent cases filed, 2014 - 2016 Q2, by month   Fig. 3:  Top districts by patent cases filed, 2012 - 2016 Q2   Fig. 4:  Top districts by patent cases filed, 2016 Q2     The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Covered Business Method (CBM) reviews have remained steady, but the number of Inter [...]

By | 2017-10-09T20:28:56+00:00 July 14th, 2016|Legal Trends|

2016 First Quarter IP Litigation Trends

Patent Litigation District Court In the first quarter of 2016, 955 patent cases were filed.  This number represents a decline from the level of litigation seen over the last few years - a quarterly low not seen since 2011.   Looking at the quarter more granularly (Fig. 2), shows that the first two months of the quarter were similar to December, while March saw an increase.  Given the spike which occurred in November, it’s possible that many of the cases which would otherwise have been filed in the months of December, January and February were shifted up into November.   The Eastern District of Texas saw a marked decrease in new filings in the first quarter of 2016.  While the district had 43% of the patent cases filed in 2015, in the first quarter of 2016 the percentage dropped to 30%   Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2012 - 2016 Q1, by quarter   Fig. 2:  Patent cases filed, 2014 - 2016 Q1, by month   Fig. 3:  Top districts by patent cases filed, 2012 - 2016 Q1   Fig. 4:  Top districts by patent cases filed, 2016 Q1     The Patent Trial and Appeal Board The first quarter [...]

By | 2017-10-09T20:29:19+00:00 April 13th, 2016|Legal Trends|

Lex Machina 2015 End-of-Year Trends

Patent Litigation District Court Patent litigation in U.S. district courts grew in 2015 with 5,830 patent cases filed, a 15.0% rise from 2014 (5,070 cases).  Except for 2013, which remains the high-water year  for patent litigation (6,114 cases), 2015 surpassed all other previous years. Fig. 1:  Patent cases filed, 2009-2015 While the increase from 2014 was already apparent by Q3, the last quarter of 2015 showed a rise in case filings over Q3, a pattern not seen since 2012.  The 1,577 cases filed in Q4 2015 represent a 41.2% rise from Q3 - the strongest quarter-over-quarter rise in the last ten years. Fig. 2:  Patent cases filed, 2012-2015, by quarter The distribution of patent cases among district courts remains highly uneven.  The Eastern District of Texas received 2,540 cases comprising 43.6% of all cases filed in 2015 - a higher percentage than the combined total for all districts below the top 3 (41.9%).  The next busiest district, the District of Delaware, saw less than 10% of the cases filed in 2015.   Fig. 3:  Patent cases filed in 2015, by district The trend towards filing cases in Eastern Texas accelerated in Q4 of 2015.  Although Delaware saw its second quarter-over-quarter [...]

By | 2017-10-09T20:30:41+00:00 January 7th, 2016|Analytics Articles, Legal Trends|