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$7 billion cost of lawsuits by non-practicing entities (NPEs) over patent infringement

“In 2010 alone, NPEs filed 550 [patent suits] at a total cost of $7 billion to the defendant companies, according to defensive patent aggregator RPX Corp.” The quote comes from Intellectual Prop., Fall 2011 at 25. Does that mean last year the defendants in those suits paid $7 billion in settlements or damages? Does the figure include amounts they paid law firms and vendors during the defense of those cases?

In the back of my mind, data produced by an obviously-interested party – RPX undoubtedly wants companies to worry about NPE litigation (trolls) and to turn to RPX as a savior – needs to pass a tougher legitimacy test than data produced by a more objective researcher. I searched the RPX website and found no mention of the metric, let alone its calculation.