By Jason Rantanen
Each year the Federal Circuit provides caseload statistics. The court recently released the statistics for FY 2012 (October 2011-September 2012). In terms of overall caseload, the number appeals filed with the court continued to rise, although it remains well below the numbers of appeals filed from 2002-2007.
As with last year's increase, this increase largely appears to be due to an increase in the number of patent infringement appeals. The next charge shows that appeals from district courts rose while appeals from most other areas actually declined slightly. According to the court, 471 patent infringement appeals from the U.S. District Courts were filed in FY 2012, up from 426 in FY 2011.
One question that people invariably ask about a pending appeal is "How long will it take for the court to issue its opinion?" While there's no answer that can be offered with certainty other than "it varies," the below chart offers some guidance. It also suggests one of two things: either the court's median time to disposition in patent-related appeals is inching upward slightly, or the court is using less Rule 36 summary affirmances in those appeals. For similar reasons, the below data should be read with some caution, as it (presumably) includes two distinct cohorts: appeals disposed of through Rule 36 affirmances (which issue shortly after the scheduled date for oral argument) and appeals for which the court writes a substantive opinion (which generally issue much later). Consequently, the median time to disposition for the cohort of summarily affirmed appeals is probably much less than the indicated median while the median for the remaining appeals is probably greater.
Based on data obtained from http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/the-court/statistics.html