Patent litigation metrics from France, and the broader value of management metrics

“On average, in France, approximately 350 new patent cases are initiated every year in first instance [trial courts] and 110 appeals are lodged.” I knew from that sentence in FocusEurope, Summer 2011 at 54, that good metrics lay ahead in an ad by Véron & Associés. C’est vrai. Based on the firm’s research, that volume makes France fourth in world for patent litigation, trailing the United States, China, and Germany.

Interesting to me also was the firm’s analysis of 1,820 patent cases during 2000-2009 before the Tribunal de grande instance in Paris. Infringement claims made up 81 percent of those cases followed by five percent “employee invention” cases. I think that litigation by employees against their employers over an invention is rare in the United States (See my post of Dec. 13, 2010: some countries’ laws require compensation for employee inventors.). The article explained a liberalization of awards of legal costs since 2007: “Nowadays, several winning parties have been awarded sums ranging from €200,000 to €300,000, which covered a significant part of their litigation costs.”

I mention these metrics not merely to gratify the thousands of French lawyers who hang on my every post, but to stress that empirical data – numbers of lawsuits, types of issues litigated, and costs – helps managers of law departments. To have a handle on the volume and expense of legal issues helps greatly in planning and implementation.

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