Joff Wild

The huge popularity of post-issuance proceedings has been one of the biggest changes in the patent market following the introduction of the America Invents Act in 2011. The uptake of inter-partes reviews (IPRs), in particular, has been well documented, but the identities of those filing the most IPRs has not been so frequently discussed. Today, we can change that. Pedram Sameni, the CEO and founder of Patexia, a crowd sourced IP platform, took a closer look at the data from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for IAM and has discovered that the companies that do file the most IPRs are now lodging a growing proportion of them. Here’s his analysis

The new USPTO post grant review procedures under the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) are rapidly approaching the two and a half year mark. Over that time they have been the subject of extensive analysis and discussion, looking at the different types of proceedings available, their effectiveness and their implications for the system. However, until now it has been relatively difficult to get the data necessary for a comprehensive bulk analysis. 

According to research undertaken by Patexia, as of 15th February a total of 2,780 petitions had been filed with the PTAB, 2,473 of which were IPRs. Of those, a growing percentage overall is filed by top petitioners. For example, 24% of IPRs were filed by the top 10 petitioners in 2014, compared to 21.9% in 2013.

Looking beyond the percentages filed by specific petitioners, each progressive year has seen growth in the number of IPRs. In 2013 a total of 702 IPRs were filed. That number more than doubled to 1,501 IPRs in 2014. Looking at the number of IPRs filed each year in the month of January, filings have progressed from 26 in 2013, to 60 in 2014, and most recently 100 in 2015. That is a year over year growth rate of 130% and 67%, respectively.

Apple was the most frequent IPR petitioner in 2013 and 2014 by some distance. Perhaps not surprisingly, Samsung, Microsoft, and Google, are also in the top 10 for both years. One interesting observation for 2013 is that there was significant activity amomg automotive companies, in particular TRW Automotive and Toyota make the top 10.

Some petitioners, such as Apple, remain at the top of the list due to their regular use of IPRs across a variety of situations. However, some companies are present due to specific circumstances. Gillette, for example, is an interesting anomaly among the other top petitioners in 2014. It filed 33 IPRs in total in 2014, all of them between March and June of 2014, and all against a single company, ZOND Inc. That one spate of filings was enough to put it among the top overall petitioners for the year.

Not all industries are represented equally in IPR filings. Looking at the data through to 15th February 2015, electrical and computer related patents represent more than half of all filed IPRs. Mechanical and business method patents represent around a quarter, followed by bio/pharma patents and chemical patents with less than 10% each. This is in line with the top filers, which are heavily in electrical or computer related fields.

IPRs and other post grant review proceedings are clearly facing ongoing industry demand, with filings showing no sign of decline in the near future. Continuing to keep a careful watch on key industries and petitioners will be a valuable indicator for IP trends, including which industries are experiencing upheaval, and which companies are in the heat of the action.