SAN FRANCISCO – When it comes to trials concerning patents, how accurate and fair is the jury? In most cases, juries award more favorable verdicts to plaintiffs than to defendants except in Texas, according to a report.
RPX Corp., a San Francisco-based provider of patent risk management services, conducted research examining all jury verdicts in patent cases since 2013. Its report found that on a national basis, six out of 10 patent jury trials favor the plaintiffs, with only four awarding a favorable judgment to the defendants.
The research conducted by RPX revealed that in the most-popular districts for patent litigation, the District of Delaware and Northern District of California "closely followed" this trend. However, the Eastern District of Texas proved to be quite different from other courts with approximately half of the verdicts favoring the defendants.
Researchers found that there were two factors that helped to explain this trend. According to the report, 95 percent of patent cases filed in the Eastern District of Texas since January 2013 were filed by the non-practicing entity (NPE). The researchers took this to mean that these NPE cases were "slightly less meritorious than operating company litigation." They felt that the large number of NPE cases tend to decrease the ratio of plaintiff verdicts.
Another difference observed in East Texas patent trials is that "far fewer" cases are resolved on summary judgment, according to the report. The report found that 70 percent of these motions are denied. As quoted in the report, research showed that "many judges in the district have, at times, restricted litigants' ability to file for summary judgment by requiring them to seek permission to file through letter briefing."
Research also revealed that the Eastern District "resolved fewer motions for summary judgment (regardless of outcome) than did the District of Delaware, despite having roughly double the number of cases during the same time period," the report states.
“The disparity in grant rates for summary judgment suggests that the Eastern District of Texas is sending cases to the jury that other districts may have resolved pre-trial, often in favor of defendants,” the report said. “The submission of those extra cases would likely increase the number of verdicts favoring defendants.”
Additional research revealed that "jury verdicts in patent cases favor defendants about 40 percent of the time nationwide, while in the Eastern District of Texas, the higher percentage of NPE cases and the lower percentage of summary judgment rulings create a more-balanced outcome at around 50 percent," the report states.
"At the annual RPX client conference in May, a panel of judges urged those in the audience to place more trust in juries to correctly and fairly adjudicate patent disputes," the report states. “That trust often depends on anecdotal evidence for certain venues, as stereotypes abound for popular districts with respect to jury trial win rates. However, an objective analysis of RPX data reveals that some of those outcomes are not as lopsided as commonly thought.”