For those of you that do ANDA litigation, as well as other types of patent litigation, you know that ANDA litigation is very different. How a judge reacts to a particular motion in ANDA litigation is not necessarily how he or she might deal with the same motion in an electrical, mechanical or software case. Because of this substantial difference, Lex Machina decided to separately tag over 2,500 ANDA cases filed since January 1, 2000. Thus, for the first time, litigators can make decisions based solely on reviewing the ANDA cases that a specific judge has handled.
Congress is on the cusp of passing legislation that is said to be designed to control the so-called “patent troll.” Of course, as belatedly recognized by the person who came up with the moniker “troll” in 1993, Peter Detkin (former Assistant General Counsel at Intel at the time), the word “troll” is often in the eye of the beholder. Indeed nearly every litigator will tell you that term “troll” is commonly used against any opponent in a patent litigation suit, much as Arthur R. Miller asserted that “a frivolous lawsuit is any case brought against your client, and litigation abuse is anything the opposing lawyer is doing.” Miller, Simplified Pleading, Meaningful Days in Court and Trial on the Merits: Reflections on the Deformation of Federal Practice, 88 NYU Law Rev. 286, 302 (2013).
Nearly 44% of all patents on which petitions were filed against are patents being held by large entities. While this is a significant increase from the earliest days of IPR where nearly 90% of all patent challenges were waged against patent owned by small entities, small entities are still carrying a massively disproportionate load of the challenges particularly when one takes into account that at any time they comprise only 20% of all the patents in force… the increase in IPR’s against patents held by large entities appears to be almost entirely due to large entities challenging other large entities, with little increased participation by small entities in the IPR process being noted.
At this time of year we often see many prognostications of what the future holds. From the prospective of the small entity patentee we see big changes in store particularly as some in Congress seem hell-bent on amending the patent statutes once more. These changes are being pushed through without any real consideration for the impact of the changes on patents held by universities, research institutes, small and medium sized companies, emerging companies, independent inventors and new entrepreneurs.
Our inter partes challenge data from pre- and post-passage of the AIA clearly show that of the relatively few initial denials made by the USPTO of an inter partes challenge request, most fell on entities that typically file as small entities. We found 88% of denied petitions for inter partes review were filed by small entities, while only 12% of those denials related to petitions filed by large entities (Fig. 6). That is, small entities are 7 times more likely to have their petitions for inter partes review denied than large entities.
Legend #1: Small Companies have greatly benefited from the new inter partes review procedure in their challenge of the patents of others. Truth: The ratio of large to small entities requesting inter partes action against the patent of another has completely flipped from pre-AIA times, such that now the vast majority of requests are by large entities as opposed to small entities. In fact, almost half of all inter partes review requests are now being filed by only the largest companies in the world, with comparatively fewer filings being made by small entity companies.
How we deal with the problems uncovered herein is something for deliberate consideration, not the activity of an automaton. For example, this paper demonstrates that patents asserted by inventors and inventor based companies generally do not fare as well as patents of other entities. However, in the United States none of us would want to stop all such entities from trying to market and license their ideas. Most of us would agree that the independent inventor has been the heart of innovation in the United States for a very long time. We have too many memories of the stories of the Wright Brothers, Chester Carlton of Xerox fame, of Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, of Edison, and of Farnsworth — the farmer boy who invented the television.
As can be seen from Fig. 12, 25% of the cases brought against the retailer were actually brought by Producer companies. The other 75% of cases could indeed be classified as NPE suits. However, of these suits, 30% were by independent inventor or independent inventor related companies, and the other 45% of cases were brought by other NPEs. Interestingly of the “other NPEs”, we found all of the patents asserted against this retailer were patents originally obtained from Producers. Of these patents, one-third came from big corporate America and the remaining two-thirds from smaller Producing companies. That means nearly 65% of this retailers troubles, which it directly attributes to “trolls” asserting bad patents, are actually related to patents that derived from Producing companies. Of its cases that was resolved, pacer suggests none were tried and each was mutually dismissed within 4 months to 13 months.