Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Patent litigation is a growth industry. According to the American Intellectual Property Law Association, in cases where between $1 million and $25 million is at risk, a patent owner should expect to spend more than $2 million to litigate a patent through trial and appeal. Where more than $25 million is at risk, costs climb above $4 million. All this, to litigate a patent that an attorney likely wrote in a week or two, and that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office probably spent less than 20 hours examining.

But the specter of such costly outlays of time and money has not seemed to stem the tide. During the twelve-month period ending September 9, 2003, U.S. patent owners filed 2,788 patent infringement lawsuits, a 13 percent increase over the same period five years earlier. Similarly, in 2003 the United States issued 187,487 patents, a 22 percent increase over 1999. Patent litigation has become the sport of kings.

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