Mystery: Why are patent cases dwindling?

BVWireIssue #137-2
February 12, 2014

A recent report on patent filings confirms what we have observed in our own research on valuation cases: There are fewer patent cases on which to report. But why?

According to data from the legal analytics company Lex Machina, total monthly filings of new patent cases in United States district courts have reached their lowest level in more than two years. Also, the number of filings in January 2014 is significantly lower than it was in December 2013 and drastically lower than it was in January 2013. Specifically, in January 2014, plaintiffs filed 322 new patent cases, compared to 427 in December 2013. In contrast, in January 2013, there were 490 new patent suits.

Lex Machina said that January historically was a slow month for patent suit filings (going back to 2007), but it's not clear what is at the root of this pronounced decline. The company, which started as a nonprofit at Stanford, said it would further analyze the numbers. “We will try to disentangle the impact of the AIA [American Invents Act] misjoinder provisions (one defendant per suit) from the rise of the non-practicing entity business model, as well as identify trends (if any) in operating company v. operating company patent case filings,” it said.

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