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US patent lawsuits hit record high


The number of patent lawsuits filed in the US soared way above average last year, according to a report.

The report, from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said the number of lawsuits rose by 29 per cent from 2011 to 2012 compared with an average yearly increase (from 1991) of seven per cent.

In all, patent holders filed 5,189 lawsuits in US courts last year, setting a new record. The percentage of cases involving computer hardware and software, Internet services and telecommunications all rose.

Describing what it viewed as a “banner year” for patent infringement litigation, PwC said of its report: “Massive damages awards made headlines … the influence of non-practising entities (NPEs) continued to grow and the number of patents granted and litigations filed maintained their sharp upward trajectory.”

Patent lawsuits in the US have been monitored closely recently, with the actions of NPEs, commonly referred to as ‘patent trolls’, coming under scrutiny for pursuing allegedly frivolous litigation over patents they don’t intend to use.

The report, published on June 24, also showed “significant upward growth” in the number of patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

patent, USPTO, NPEs, PricewaterhouseCoopers

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