Who is Suing for Patent Infringement?

Kyle Jensen and his group at PriorSMart maintain an incredible database of patent litigation. Last week Kyle provided me with some interesting data on patent filings over the past decade for one of my ongoing projects. I thought that I would present a snapshot based on PriorSMart’s information. The first table below looks at the top-25 filers of patent infringement lawsuits during the past ten years. The second table looks instead at the count of defendants who have been sued for that same time period. (At this point, the defendant-count has some duplication based on individual lawsuits that name both the parent and subsidiary companies as defendants).

 

Rank

Patent Plaintiff

Number of Cases Filed

1

Acacia

190

2

Laughlin Products

162

3

Pfizer

149

4

Monsanto Company

125

5

Ronald A Katz Technology Licensing

107

6

Patent Group (False Marking)

106

7

Novartis

104

8

Abbott Laboratories

103

9

Astrazeneca

80

10

Sanofi-Aventis

78

11

Oakley

77

12

Warner-Lambert Company

74

13

U.S. Philips

74

14

Mag Instrument

70

15

Merck

69

16

3M Innovative Properties Company

67

17

Cygnus Telecommunications Technology

64

18

Schering

64

19

Millennium

63

20

Eli Lilly And Company

61

21

Promote Innovation (False Marking)

60

22

Melvino Technologies

59

23

Teva Pharmaceuticals

58

24

AstraZeneca AB

54

25

Eon-Net

54

 

 

Rank

Patent Plaintiff

Number of Defendants

Non-Practicing Entity

1

Ronald A Katz Technology Licensing

1295

Yes

2

Acacia and Paul Ware

1100

Yes

3

Tillotson and Best Manufacturing Company

468

No

4

Laughlin Products

463

No

5

Geotag

454

Yes

6

U.S. Philips

406

No

7

Pfizer

399

No

8

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

297

Yes

9

Monsanto Company

295

No

10

Parallel Networks

274

Yes

11

Orion IP (Spangenberg)

269

Yes

12

Sanofi-Aventis

260

No

13

Electronics for Imaging (with MIT)

253

Yes

14

Abbott Laboratories

230

No

15

Melvino Technologies and ArrivalStar

226

Yes

16

Leon Stambler

218

Yes

17

Mag Instrument

212

No

18

Astrazeneca

203

No

19

PACid Group

194

Yes

20

Clear With Computers (Spangenberg)

193

Yes

21

Guardian Media Technologies

193

Yes

22

Warner-Lambert Company

187

No

23

Technology Patents

186

Yes

24

Honeywell International

183

No

25

Eli Lilly And Company

182

No

 

About 11% of all defendants sued for patent infringement during this time-period were sued by these 25 plaintiffs.

55 thoughts on “Who is Suing for Patent Infringement?

  1. t to say that the EVC was a grand disappointment would be an understatement. Within about a year problems began to appear. In New York the service remained profitable, but the other cities suffered from poor management and operations. The batteries were not properly cared for, nor were the drivers trained well. Led by the trade magazine Horseless Ageand its “autoelectrop

  2. I feel for ya WIwape, but in Sunshine’s book, ya still be disgusting.

    Dont worry – Malcolms opinion isnt worth spit.

  3. Parse, there is of course such a thing as a Design Registration in other jurisdictions. For example, Europe has one. I can understand the law on validity and scope of protection that is applied to utility patents and the different model applied to design registrations. I just get confused trying to impose on design registrations the way validity and scope of protection is done for utility patents.

    Actually, I think I am not the only one.

    I still don’t know of any other jurisdiction that boasts a “design patent” and I think the Wikipedia page confirms me in that.

  4. My statement on the lack of merit of the larger company’s case comes from a combination of things (mostly just trying to be brief). At the time I admittedly had a “gut feeling” but my lawyer also agreed. And, most importantly, at a later date the larger company lost a suit against a third company (summary judgement) where the case brought appeared to be the same as previously threatened against my company.

    I did not and do not begrudge the large company for taking the action they did. Were I in their position, I too would consider all appropriate methods to protect and enhance shareholder value.

    I suppose I could have said I believed the larger company’s lawyers thought the larger company would lose if we actually wound up at a trial and that their actions were simply gamesmanship of a sort.

    But the real point of my post was that although, for the time being, I am arguably an NPE, I wasn’t always an NPE and without the actions of a larger practicing entity I probably wouldn’t be one today.

  5. In other jurisdictions, there is no such thing as a “design patent”.

    I believe there is such a thing as a design patent in at least some foreign countries. Do a Google search (Wikipedia might also have this info) if you meant that literally. If you didn’t, then never mind.

  6. “Because NPE does not make or sell the product, it will typically not be able to claim lost-profits and will have less of a chance for injunctive relief.”

    Defendants are thus less likely to settle and lawsuits are more likely?

  7. In the more things change department:

    link to theatlantic.com

    As the Electric Vehicle Company (EVC) rounded into shape, there was a brief moment when it seemed that success might be at hand. The New York station was performing well and new offices began to operate around Boston, New Jersey, Chicago, and Newport.

    But to say that the EVC was a grand disappointment would be an understatement. Within about a year problems began to appear. In New York the service remained profitable, but the other cities suffered from poor management and operations. The batteries were not properly cared for, nor were the drivers trained well. Led by the trade magazine Horseless Ageand its “autoelectrophobe” editor, E. B. Ingersoll, the public started to call the company “The Lead Cab Trust.” The regional operating companies were shut down in February 1901.

    People began to suspect that Whitney and his financiers were merely trying to pull some stock swindle. That notion gained steam when the EVC turned patent troll and began brandishing the Selden patent, which it said covered all automobiles.

  8. TiVo basically created this market and owned it for years

    They were some of the most aggressive advertisers, that’s for sure. But they didn’t “create” the market. I also think it’s doubtful that they invented anything interesting.

  9. Perhaps he bought the company’s product and resold a modified version? Probably not, but i believe the first sale doctrine would preclude a patent suit.

  10. was one of the first companies to monetize its portfolio as a way of business

    …but did they apply for a patent for that?

  11. To say that about IBM is particularly ironic as they one of the most aggressive. As others have noted when IBM comes calling, people receiving “suggested licenses” usually just take them or go for a cross-license if they have a portfolio with something to offer.

    Also, IBM was one of the first companies to monetize its portfolio as a way of business.

  12. As someone else posted, it’s also skewed away from the top patent recipients because when Big Blue comes knocking you usually just work out a licensing deal (maybe a somewhat one-sided cross-license if you are lucky) and the big guys do not need to file suit.

  13. “Such one sided comments like cred”

    I’m sorry, could you repeat that?

    Also, I believe Paul was merely saying that the numbers skew higher for the pharmaceutical companies because they are suing many people who directly copy the formula as opposed to competitors who created or derived their own drug to solve a problem.

  14. Maxi,

    I too at first jumped to the conclusion that the “various reasons” were IP related, but they may not have been.

    Let’s let “Wish I was a practicing entity” clarify.

    And WIwape, also please clarify just how you determined that “Their case did not have merit“. Was this a gut feeling? Did you have experienced patent (or other) counsel provide an opinion? Not ta say that you fall into the group, but inventors generally speaking are not so good at determining such legal matters.

  15. Paulie,

    You seem to be making a (subjective) distinction as to who should be able to bring suit (in favor of pharma).

    You be right in line with Sunshine and his ability to sniff the worth of a patent by its title alone.

    Such one sided comments like cred, my boy.

  16. Here is a similar story

    TiVo has been spending a lot of effort suing others for patent infringement, but apparently not very much on actually improving their own services and giving customers a reason to buy them over the competition. So while it may be winning some of its patent lawsuits, it hasn’t helped much for the business, which is rapidly bleeding customers and losing marketshare. TiVo basically created this market and owned it for years — but then got complacent. Now, since it can’t compete, it’s gone to a litigation strategy. Perhaps it should have focused more on providing value and competing rather than suing.

  17. When you:

    “…began to sell a product that modified a large company’s product…”

    did it not occur to you that you might be infringing the large company’s IPR? Is not the large company as entitled as you are, to acquire and assert IPR?

  18. Good to see so many pharma and med companies in there. The names that intrigued me were Mag Instrument and Oakley. When I saw them I thought the stats must include trademark cases. But then I thought: design patents. Dennis, could that be the explanation?

    Somebody asked about patent litigation in other countries. In other jurisdictions, there is no such thing as a “design patent”. Trademark cases are more numerous than patent cases. My guess is that, if you were to ask any of the companies on the list, it would tell you that you would have to add up all their litigations, all over ROW, and then multiply by some small whole number, to get anywhere near the US figures in the Table above

  19. I sure don’t feel like a troll, sorry

    At the same time, you don’t sound like much of an inventor.

  20. I guess I am an NPE but initially I developed, manufactured, patented and began to sell a product that modified a large company’s product in a beneficial way. That company wrote me a letter and said stop or we will sue for various reasons. Their case did not have merit but I could not justify the expense and risk for my unproven product. In the interim, that company and others “developed” and sold products I believe are covered by my patents. At the time of the letter, I continued to pursue more patents related to the invention because that’s all I could do without threat of suit from a larger practicing entity that can afford to sue small entities just to slow them down or stop them. Now, I intend to license or sell the patents and/or possibly begin selling my products again. But even if I don’t start selling, I sure don’t feel like a troll, sorry.

  21. There are at least two seriously missleading factors to be considered in this list. First, the number of suits filed is not nearly as important as the number of defendants being sued in each suit, which in the case of many NPE’s is often huge, and which is the equivalent of multiple idependent suits. Secondly, are not many if not most of the suits shown as being filed by drug companies being filed against two-bit blatent counterfeiters, not legitimate competitors?

  22. You don’t have to be brilliant to “isolate your first protein fragment” by the age of 25, trust me.

    Hey wait-a-mintue, is that a euphemism for Wankster’s Paradise?

    Ya know, comin from teh President’s favorite, ya just dont know about these things.

  23. How not?

    Lets see ya try to use those two lonely logic cells up in that noggin O yours ta figure this out.

  24. “Trolls, not having anything the Micro$ofts can threaten with the Micro$oft Nuclear Patent Arsenal serve to bust up the thickets.”

    How, exactly, does a troll asserting their patent against MS et al. (probably in addition to many little guys) help to break up a thicket? I’m legitimately interested to hear your answer to this question if you can bother yourself to answer it seriously.

  25. “Just ask i4i. O, wait a minute.”

    Looking at what their patent protected and which MS apparently inadvertently put in their product I’m not impressed with their business.

  26. Or they just try to squach you like a bug with their gazillion patents (especially if you – gasp – dare to practice in their Kingly domain.

    Just ask i4i. O, wait a minute…

    Ya see – the other side of this here coin is the “scorn” thrown out by mouthpieces like Sunshine on the so-called Trolls. Trolls, not having anything the Micro$ofts can threaten with the Micro$oft Nuclear Patent Arsenal serve to bust up the thickets.

    But they be bad, O so bad per Sunshine. Sunshine there to protect everyone on the edges of the fields O rye.

  27. Actually I didn’t just invent that. If I’m remembering correctly, I invented it a few years ago and disclosed it here.

  28. Articles here regarding Leon Stambler, the alleged inventor of SSL technology who apparently really really loves lawyers (until he fires them):

    link to spectrum.ieee.org

    From 2003: Stambler’s attorneys may in fact try to get away from the details of the technology, and continue to focus on their client—painting him as an elderly, somewhat eccentric, gentleman in the twilight of his engineering career, trying to keep from being robbed of his rightful credit for his final inventions. “Juries often don’t make rational or logical decisions, they fall for personalities,” says Robert J. Schneider, of Chapman and Cutler (Chicago), an attorney who has followed the case.

    “Robbed of his rightful credit?” I doubt it. More like “incredibly well reimbursed in the form of licenses covering technology which he likely did not invent.”

    link to iptoday.com

    Internet security experts contend that the Stambler patents simply mirror the original work done by cryptographers at Stanford University and MIT during the 1970s and 1980s.

    MIT does original work? I thought they were non-practicing entities.

  29. Perhaps. However, I think the better answer is that when the likes of IBM accuse you of infringement, the normal answer is to take out a license. IBM, Microsoft and others like them are quite aware of the anti-trust laws and tend to offer licenses on reasonable terms equally available to all.

  30. “You don’t have to be ‘brilliant’ to do that, either.”

    Obviously not if you managed it.

    “You do need a certain level of skill and intelligence, however, that is greater than the skill and intelligence necessary to say ‘It would be cool if my computer aumotatically played a song by Artist X on Artist X’s birthday and the day that Artist X dies.’”

    Hey, there you go. You just invented something somebody might actually want to use. Now why don’t you patent it and make millions?

  31. “I have done so already quite a few times, and will continue to do so.”

    And you’re still bitter that you haven’t made a dime off any of them.

  32. we all aren’t brilliant enough to isolate our first protein fragment by the age of 25

    You don’t have to be brilliant to “isolate your first protein fragment” by the age of 25, trust me. However, I was talking about cloning and isolating an antigen to make antibodies. You don’t have to be “brilliant” to do that, either. You do need a certain level of skill and intelligence, however, that is greater than the skill and intelligence necessary to say “It would be cool if my computer aumotatically played a song by Artist X on Artist X’s birthday and the day that Artist X dies.”

  33. why don’t you invent something?

    I have done so already quite a few times, and will continue to do so.

  34. Anybody else taken by how far these list diverge from the top patenting companies?

    For 2010 (other years are similar):
    1) IBM
    2) Samsung
    3) Microsoft
    4) Canon
    5) Panasonic
    6) Toshiba
    7) Sony
    8) Intel
    9) LG Electronics
    10) Hewlett-Packard

    So is it “those who can do, those who can’t sue”?

  35. Ned – good comment.

    I believe that the bulk of the MIT lawsuits are in conjunction with an exclusive license to an NPE plaintiff. However, MIT certainly has exclusively licensed patents to practicing entities.

    Of course, it is often true that even when the plaintiff is a “practicing entity,” that entity is not actually making use of the particular patent sued-on.

  36. Treating MIT (and other research universities) like a run-of-the-mill patent troll is like treating Frank Lloyd Wright the same as a real estate agent.

  37. Well, we all aren’t brilliant enough to isolate our first protein fragment by the age of 25.

    Here’s an idea: why don’t you invent something?

  38. Dennis, I think MIT and perhaps universities in general might grant exclusive licenses to entities who actually produce products. I would consider MIT, as a plaintiff in such lawsuits, to be a “practicing entity.”

    I merely suggest this, because it might be possible to actually determine just how often MIT suing as an exclusive licensor by determining whether it has co-plaintiffs.

  39. The NPE term is most relevant to damages & injunctive relief. Because NPE does not make or sell the product, it will typically not be able to claim lost-profits and will have less of a chance for injunctive relief. From this perspective, It is difficult to see MIT as distinct from other non-practicing entities (except as far as MIT is in partnership with an entity that is actually using its patented inventions).

  40. The same could be said for any NPE, except for exclusively patent holding entities.

    And even patent holding entities get their patents from somewhere–presumably their IP was ultimately purchased or licensed from those entities that “perform actual research resulting in patented inventions”.

  41. MIT may not manufacture products, but their faculty and students perform actual research resulting in patented inventions. Calling them a non-practicing entity seems a bit disingenuous.

  42. It would be very interesting to see the corresponding data from our competitors across the seas, especially Germany and Japan.

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