2016 Patent Litigation Study: Are we at an inflection point?

May 2016

At a glance

2016 Patent Litigation Study: Are we at an inflection point?

PwC’s 2016 Patent Litigation Study provides an analysis of US patent infringement actions. These observations/trends can help executives, legislators, and litigators assess their patent enforcement or defense strategies.

Leading observations: 

  • For the second year in a row - and after many years of steady increases - the number of patent infringement cases filed dropped, perhaps reflecting increased anxiety over the fruits of such proceedings in the post-Alice environment. 
  • 2015 also showed a decrease in patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the first decline since 2008.
  • 2015 annual damages award ($10.2M) reached the highest point in 10 years.
  • Consumer products still leads in number of cases; the biotech/pharma industries have the highest median damages awards.
  • Damages awards for Non-Practicing Entities are almost 3x greater than practicing entities over the last 5 years.
  • 80% of district court decisions are appealed, and 53% of appealed decisions are modified in some regard.
  • Fee shifting in patent cases caught attention this year, with discussion focused on the merits and disadvantages of “fee shifting”— making the loser pay the legal costs of litigation.
  • Our analysis also continues to keep a watchful eye on emerging trends including infringement compensation, intellectual property dispute issues, the growing threat of trade secret theft, among others.