In some ways, 2013 appeared to be a moderating year in patent infringement litigation. The “mega” verdicts of prior years (2012 saw three cases that resulted in damages awards of over $1 billion) were missing, with the largest new award falling to just over $200 million. Four of the ten largest awards from previous years were settled, overturned, modified or remain under appeal in 2013. And the median damages award continued its gradual downward tapering, to $4.3 million in the most recent four-year period.
On the other hand, both the number of patent cases filed and the number of patents granted continued to grow rapidly in 2013—by 25% (to almost 6,500 cases) and 7% (to almost 300,000 patents), respectively, over 2012. And mega cases continued to make headlines, including one involving an “at-risk” launch of a generic pharmaceutical that was settled mid-trial for $2.15 billion, and another matter involving medical devices where post-trial bench consideration added substantial punitive damages, potentially bringing total damages to over $1 billion. The year 2013 also saw the continuation of the multi-year “smartphone wars,” both in district courts and before the International Trade Commission (ITC).
Recognizing the ongoing critical, strategic interest in intellectual property matters, PwC gathers and maintains a database of US patent infringement actions. We collect information on liability outcomes, damages awarded, time-to-trial, trier of fact, type of entity, industry, district court and judge. Our primary case data relates to the 19-year period of 1995 through 2013. This year, in response to reader requests, our 2014 Patent Litigation Study adds a set of statistics on the outcome of patent infringement appeals to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. We analyzed this data with a focus on helping executives, legislators, and litigators assess patent enforcement or defense strategies—as well as the impact of nonpracticing entities.