Three-Year Rise in Patent Lawsuits

Number Latest Month 530
Percent Change from 1 year ago 46%
Percent Change from 3 years ago 147%
Percent Change from 5 years ago 123%

Table 1: Patent Civil Filings

The latest available data from the federal courts show that during January 2013 the government reported 530 new patent civil filings. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 46 percent over the same period one year ago, and is nearly two and a half times the level reported in January 2010 (up 147 percent).

Patent lawsuits are brought to enforce provisions of the Patent Laws under Title 35 of the U.S. Code (35 U.S.C. 271, 35 U.S.C. 281 and 35 U.S.C. 145, among others) as well as 28 U.S.C. 1338 and 15 U.S.C. 1126 and other statutes related to intellectual property protection.

The comparisons of the number of civil filings for patent-related suits are based on case-by-case court records which were compiled and analyzed by TRAC (see Table 1).

Bar and line plot of fymon

Figure 1: Patent Civil Filings over the last 5 years

The long term trend in patent civil filings going back five years is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of patent civil filings recorded each month. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. One, three and five-year change comparisons are based upon the moving averages.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

Relative to population, the volume of civil matters of this type filed in federal district courts during January 2013 was 1.7 per every million persons in the United States. One year ago the relative number of filings was 1.2. Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of patent civil filings in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago
Delaware 111.8 99 1 1 1
Texas, E 39.9 141 2 2 2
Ill, N 3.7 35 3 7 17
Virg, E 3.5 20 4 9 19
D. C. 3.3 2 5 14 3
N. Y., S 2.9 15 6 3 9
Utah 2.9 8 7 8 16
Cal, S 2.5 8 8 6 4
New Hamp 2.3 3 9 26 -
Cal, C 2.2 40 10 20 40

Table 2: Top 10 districts (per one million people)

  • The District of Delaware—with 111.8 civil filings as compared with 1.7 civil filings per one million people in the United States—was the most active through January 2013. The District of Delaware was ranked 1st a year ago as well as five years ago.

  • The Eastern District of Texas ranked 2nd. The Eastern District of Texas was ranked 2nd a year ago as well as five years ago.

  • The Northern District of Illinois now ranks 3rd. The Northern District of Illinois was ranked 7th a year ago.

Recent entries to the top 10 list were Washington, D.C. (Washington), Central District of California (Los Angeles) and New Hampshire, now ranked 5th, 10th and 9th. These districts ranked 14th, 20th and 26th one year ago and 3rd, 40th and unranked five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of patent civil filings compared to one year ago—200.0 percent—was New Hampshire. Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth—880.0 percent—was Delaware.

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of patent civil filings—42.3 percent—was Southern District of New York. But over the past five years, Southern District of California showed the largest drop—12.2 percent.

Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.

Report Date: February 19, 2013
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Copyright 2013, TRAC Reports, Inc.