Interesting Patent Statistics

In my continuing venting of frustrations related to the current state of affairs of the patent system in our country, I was turned onto some very interesting statistics by my friend Chris Graham at Dechert.  (Despite his mean looking picture, he’s actually a really nice guy).

Chris’ partner, James Elacqua put together a presentation regarding litigation surround patents, with a particular look at business method patents (which I abhor). 

So with full credit to Jim and with thanks to Chris for passing along, here are some interesting numbers. 

1. Patent cases filed has nearly doubled in the last ten years.  Today, nearly 3000 cases are filed a year.

2. Direct costs (not including man hours lost, and costs related to losing one’s patent) for these cases (assuming more than $25m is at stake) are $5m for the median case, up 10x from the 1980s.  If we use just the median case, these patent cases have direct costs of $15,000,000,000 per year.

3.  Amount of jury versus bench trials have doubled in the past decade, now standing at 43%.  If you’ve ever been on a jury, think about which ones that you’ve been on that you think are capable of really understanding a patent case.

4.  Of course, jury trials normally return 8x the damages that bench trials do.

5.  Business method patent filings are on the rise and applications are far outpacing issuances.  When the PTO says it is overwhelmed with applications, this might have something to do with it.




Unfortunately, I don’t see a short term fix for any of this, especially after attending a debate last week at the DNC where Obama and McCain camps debated potential changes to the patent systems.  Neither side impressed me having a clear vision of how we are going to better our system, although there was plenty of rhetoric and mudslinging around.  Sigh…