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Open For Business: The International Trade Commission Set a Record Last Year, and it's Full Speed Ahead

Publication Date: 
March 01, 2011
Corporate Counsel
Jenna Greene

Professor Mark Lemley was mentioned briefly in the following story on patent disputes in 2010. Corporate Counsel's Jenna Greene referenced Professor Lemley's study on the time it takes for a patent case to reach trial:

From iPads to caskets, sex toys to semiconductors, the U.S. International Trade Commission has been flooded with patent disputes involving billions of dollars worth of products. In fact, there had never been a year like 2010 at the agency, where the number of intellectual property cases filed hit an all-time high, up 75 percent from 2009.

Filing a case at the commission amounts to forum shopping—the same matter could be brought in virtually any U.S. district court. So why are so many lawyers and their Fortune 500 clients now flocking to the ITC to pursue patent or trademark infringement claims?

The top reason is speed. Despite the crush of work, the ITC has been deciding patent cases from start to finish within 18 months, thanks to an increase in the number of administrative law judges. In district courts, by contrast, the average time to trial for a patent case is more than two years, according to a study by Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemley. "The ITC has done a better job than district courts in keeping cases on a fast schedule," says Mark Davis, a Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner based in Washington.