In an interesting article at Fortune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt has highlighted how 2013 was a record year for patent trolls, especially for Apple. Not only was Apple the No. 1 target of patent lawsuits during the year, it was also the top defendant in most new cases filed against technology companies. Here are some of the most interesting facts Philip has extracted from Lex Machina’s 2013 Patent Litigation Year in Review:
- A record 6,092 new patent cases were filed in U.S. District Courts, up 12.4% from 2012
- As usual, the plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas got more than its share: 1,495, up 20%.
- Judge Rodney Gilstrap in the Eastern District was assigned 941 cases, more than double his nearest colleague.
- The top 10 plaintiffs were so-called patent monetization entities — popularly known as “patent trolls”The most active troll was Melvino Technologies/ArrivalStar with 137 cases.
- Apple was the defendant in the most new cases — 59 in all, not counting summary judgements.
While Monsanto won the largest award ($1 billion) from Dupont in a patents infringement case, Apple was No. 2, winning $890 million (excluding costs, fees and post-judgment interest) from Samsung.
In the most recent patent trial with Samsung, Apple claimed that 10 of the Korean manufacturer’s devices infringe on at least five of its patents. While the jury awarded only a fraction of Apple’s $2 billion damages claim — $124 million earlier this month, Samsung is already set to appeal and ask the trial judge to reduce the damages awarded to zero.