A trove of US data on recent IP litigation numbers and costs

The ACC Docket, Vol. 25, June 2007, at 66, pours out a full measure of metrics concerning US IP litigation. For the benefit of law departments that have IP lawyers, I quote and comment on five of them, but omit their citations to four different original sources.

1. “In the past five years, patent litigation has risen 11 percent, trademark litigation has risen 15 percent, and copyright litigation has doubled.” Given that the economy has expanded during those five years at a rate of 2-3 percent annually, the increased numbers of patent and trademark lawsuits are right in line with that growth rate. Copyright litigation may reflect the new-found importance of the Internet as well as a relatively low base rate.

2. “In 2006, there were over 11,000 IP suits filed.”

3. “In 2005, the average cost of patent litigation was over $2M, $750K for trademark litigation, and $555K for copyright litigation.” I have addressed before the accuracy of this kind of data (See my posts in 2005 of March 29, 2005 poking at an average of $2m per patent lawsuit; and May 1, 2005 on costs of patent litigation.). Even if the absolute amounts are suspect, the ratios may be roughly correct.

4. “In 2005, the top 25 IP damage awards and settlements averaged over $241M.” My only question is whether this factual statement reflects any subsequent reduction in the trial courts’ awards.

5. “In 2006, IP-related damage awards and settlements totaled $3.4 billion.” Here, one might wonder how tight is the definition of “IP-related”. For instance, a law suit over an acquisition might involve patents, but also much else. Also, let me indulge in some math. What if there were 10,000 IP suits filed in 2005 (extrapolating back one year from No. 2 above) and all of them were resolved in 2006 by a judgment or settlement (highly unlikely, but stay with me)? If so, 10,000 cases resulting in $3.4 billion in payments means an average of $340,000 per suit. Does such a broad-brush calculation have any merit? Would such an average be on top of the litigation costs of No. 3?

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