New Year’s Grab Bag: Old Topics and Young Lawyers


New Year’s Grab Bag: Old Topics and Young Lawyers

Welcome to 2016!

By all accounts, 2015 was a banner year:

  • For patent litigation—the second–highest number of patent lawsuits ever were filed in 2015 (just behind 2013);
  • For patent trolls, which accounted for two–thirds of those new lawsuits, up from 2014;
  • And for the Eastern District of Texas, in which 44% of all new patent lawsuits were filed. Of those, 95% were patent troll cases.

[HT: Ars Technica]

2015 was a big year for Alice v. CLS Bank, under which the Federal Circuit and the federal district courts routinely held patents to computer–implemented abstract ideas invalid. By our count, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the invalidity of asserted patents in 12 of the 13 Alice cases it has decided since June 2014.

What will 2016 bring to the world of patent litigation?

New discovery rules, with a focus on proportionality between the costs of litigation and the value of the case—a particular concern in patent cases, where fees and costs routinely run in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

And here are a couple of new developments that we wouldn’t mind seeing become 2016 trends:

  • In Delaware, a federal court has stayed discovery pending resolution of Alice motions to dismiss in a set of cases involving parent and child patents. This move allows a dispositive issue to be decided without the parties having to take on discovery and related litigation expenses that might ultimately prove unnecessary—particularly, as in these cases, where the patent–owner could not show that it was a market competitor of the defendants. We hope other judges and courts will follow suit.
  • In east Texas, Magistrate Judge Mitchell has issued an order offering additional time to lawyers with seven or fewer years of experience to argue claim construction of terms that might otherwise have been submitted for decision on the papers by the parties in order to save precious argument time. We applaud Judge Mitchell’s efforts to increase the opportunities for young lawyers to argue substantive issues, opportunities increasingly hard for the next generation of lawyers to come by. [HT: EDTexweblog]
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