|Title:||IP Litigation in United States District Courts: 1994 to 2014|
|Citation:||Sag, M. (2015). IP Litigation in United States District Courts: 1994 to 2014. Available at SSRN 2570803.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The primary source of data for this article is the records of federal litigation maintained by the Public Access and Records management Division of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, available on PACER.
The 192,524 court records in the study are from federal IP cases filed in 94 U.S. federal district courts in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rick, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands between 1994 and 2014.
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
This article undertakes a broad-based empirical review of Intellectual Property (IP) litigation in United States federal district courts from 1994 to 2014. Unlike the prior literature, this study analyzes federal copyright, patent and trademark litigation trends as a unified whole. It undertakes a systematic analysis of more than 190,000 individual case filings and examines the subject matter, geographical and temporal variation within federal IP litigation over the last two decades.
This article makes a number of significant contributions to our understanding of IP litigation. It analyzes time trends in copyright, patent and trademark litigation filings at the national level, but it does much more than simply count the number of cases; it explores the meaning behind those numbers and shows how in some cases the observable headline data can be positively misleading. Exploring the changes in the distribution of IP litigation over time and their regional distribution leads to a number of significant insights, these are summarized below. Just as importantly, one of the key contributions of this article is that it frames the context for more fine-grained empirical studies in the future. Many of the results and conclusions herein demonstrate the dangers of basing empirical conclusions on narrow slices of data from selected regions or selected time periods.
Main Results of the Study
- First, the rise of Internet file-sharing has transformed copyright litigation in the United States. More specifically, to the extent that the rate of copyright litigation has increased over the last two decades, that increase appears to be entirely attributable to lawsuits against anonymous Internet file sharers. These lawsuits largely took place in two distinct phases: the first phase largely consisted of lawsuits seeking to discourage illegal downloading; the second phase largely consists lawsuits seeking to monetize online infringement.
- Second, in relation to patent litigation, the apparent patent litigation explosion between 2010 and 2012 is something of a mirage; however there has been a sustained patent litigation inflation over the last two decades the extent of which has not been fully recognized until now. The reason why this steady inflation was mistaken for a sudden explosion was that the true extent of patent litigation was disguised by permissive joinder.
- Third, in relation to the geography of IP litigation, it appears that filings in copyright, patent and trademark litigation are generally highly correlated. The major exceptions to that correlation are driven by short term idiosyncratic events in copyright and trademark litigation — these are discussed in detail — and by the dumbfounding willingness of the Eastern district Texas to engage in forum selling to attract patent litigation. The popularity of the Eastern District of Texas as a forum for patent litigation is a well-known phenomenon. However, the data and analysis presented in this study provides a new way of looking at the astonishing ascendancy of this district and the problem of form shopping in patent law more generally.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
- This data-driven approach has yielded insights in relation to the Internet filesharing litigation, the true impact of patent trolls on the level of patent litigation, and the extent of forum shopping and forum selling patent litigation. Just as importantly, the trends identified in this article lay the foundation for planning and evaluating future empirical studies of IP litigation with a narrower focus.
- Many of the results and conclusions herein demonstrate the dangers of basing empirical conclusions on narrow slices of data from selected regions or selected time periods.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||court records|
|Period of material under study:||1994-2014|