Earlier this month, GAO issued its report of the AIA Section 34-mandated study on the consequences of patent litigation by NPEs.
The study focused on the increase in patent infringement suits from 2000-2010 and examined four important factors affecting this trend: 1) volume and characteristics of cases within the time frame; 2) key factors that contributed to the recent patent litigation; 3) indication of any changes in the judicial system; and 4) PTO actions affecting future patent litigation. Unclear and overly broad patents, potential for monetary award and increasing recognition of the value of a patent are a few of the important factors contributing to the rise in patent infringement litigation.
One of the many interesting findings from the study is the disproportionate number of software-related cases involved in patent litigation during this time period. Specifically, from 2007-2011 software patents accounted for 89% of the increase in defendants, and 46% of the infringement lawsuits involved software-related patents regardless of the type of litigant involved. The report indicates that, instead of focusing on the role of the NPEs in patent infringement litigation, the focus should be on strengthening the patent system through the cooperation of the PTO, software industry participants and patent owners.