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New Database Reveals Surprises About Patent Cases

Publication Date: 
December 15, 2008
Source: 
Texas Lawyer
Author: 
Zusha Elinson

Professor Mark A. Lemley is quoted in the Texas Lawyer in an article about the Stanford IP Litigation Clearinghouse:

It's not true that patent infringement suits are going through the roof -- filings have held steady for eight years -- but there are a whole lot more defendants out there looking for lawyers.

While many IP litigators have been busier in the past few years, the actual number of infringement suits has hovered between 2,300 and 2,800 a year. But in 2007, the number of defendants named in these cases jumped from around 6,000 in 2006 to 9,000.

"The tools that are being created here will make research and strategy much more efficient," says Daniel Cooperman, general counsel at Apple Inc., who attended the launch at Stanford. "And therefore resolutions will be more efficient."

Mark Lemley, an IP law professor at Stanford who spearheaded the project, says that the database revealed some surprising trends.

For instance, in spite of all the whining by big tech companies besieged by infringement suits about how unfair the patent litigation system is, defendants actually win more in the courtroom than plaintiffs, 57 percent to 43 percent.

'It's clear that if you're willing to take the case to judgment you've got a decent shot at avoiding liability,' Lemley says. 'What's probably concealed in the data is how many people are paying to get rid of threats.'

...

This year, the number of defendants has been a little more on pace with previous years, although the numbers don't reflect the full year. Lemley speculates that plaintiffs were trying to sue as much as they could in 2007 for fear that the congressional rumblings on patent reform would become reality.