There were plenty of indications that 2012 could be a defining year for the U.S. patent system, not the least of which was the ongoing implementation of America Invents Act (AIA) provisions. Looking back from a distance, researchers are now suggesting that the precedents set and transformations observed may well have been more significant and diverse than originally suspected.
In a comprehensive review authored by analysts from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the most striking observation to the common reader may be the sheer amount of money tied up in patent disputes. For example, the number of infringement cases resulting in billion-dollar damage awards in 2012 was equivalent to the number seen in all previous years combined.
Litigious filings rose in frequency as well in 2012, climbing nearly 30 percent year-over-year. According to the report, this spike was partly attributable to the "anti-joinder" AIA provision which limited the number of defendants which could be named in a single lawsuit.
Finally, the holistic review of the patent landscape also allowed observers to pinpoint an interesting geographical trend. Federal district courts across northern Virginia, Delaware and eastern Texas were typically the most favorable to patent-holding plaintiffs and attracted considerable activity with comparatively shorter trial cycles and higher median damage awards.