Thursday, 15 October 2009

Fulbright review of lit trends -- patents down but not out

The Fulbright & Jaworski 6th Annual Litigation Trends report has just been released. On patents, this US-centric but nonetheless highly valuable piece of research has this to say (as summarised by Reuters):
"What`s New in Patents

27. Patent Offense: Has patent litigation gone by the wayside as in-house counsel preoccupy themselves with bankruptcy litigation, labor and employment suits and regulatory matters? Or, in the face of reduced budgets, are in-house counsel simply pushing patent disputes down on their priority lists? [What about increased activity in terms of licensing, cooperation in standards-setting organisations, reverse settlements etc? Could these explain the dip?] In the 2008 survey, 21% of respondents reported having been involved with at least one patent infringement proceeding as a plaintiff in the past 12 months. This year that number is down to 17%. In patent-heavy industries like technology and manufacturing, however, the numbers are as much as twice that [I'm not sure if this means twice as high or twice as low].

28. Patent Defense: With patent claims going down, there was a corresponding drop in companies that have defended against patent infringement claims in the past 12 months [If the drop is proportionate as between claimants and defendants, that might point to e.g. more licensing or better mediation ...].

29. What`s Ahead: Corporate counsel do not seem to expect much of a jump in the coming year: 92% of respondents said they expect the number of patent infringement suits their companies will be involved with as a claimant to remain the same in the coming year. In-house counsel at technology companies do not expect to see a rise in the patent suits they file, though 15% of them expect an increase in the number of patent suits they will be involved with as a defendant [Does this mean they are taking 15% more risks with third party patents?]".
I've not got the time and the opportunity to read beneath the headlines right now, but PatLit will be pleased to publish any informed comments and explanations from those who have the chance to read this work properly.

Reuters press release here
Note on Fulbright & Jaworski's website here
Full report here

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