Our Divided Patent System

82 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2014 Last revised: 9 Feb 2016

Date Written: October 14, 2014


In this comprehensive new study, we evaluate all substantive decisions rendered by any court in every patent case filed in 2008 and 2009 — decisions made between 2009 and 2013. We assess the outcome of litigation by technology and industry. We relate the outcomes of those cases to a host of variables, including variables related to the parties, the patents, and the courts in which those cases were litigated.

We find dramatic differences in the outcomes of patent litigation by both technology and industry. For example, owners of patents in the pharmaceutical industry fare much better in dispositive litigation rulings than do owners of patents in the computer & electronics industry, and chemistry patents have much greater success in litigation than their software or biotech counterparts. Our results provide an important window into both patent litigation and the industry-specific battles over patent reform. And they suggest that the traditional narrative of industry-specific patent disputes, which pits the IT industries against the life sciences, is incomplete.

Suggested Citation

Allison, John R. and Lemley, Mark A. and Schwartz, David L., Our Divided Patent System (October 14, 2014). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 82, pp. 1073-1154 (2015), Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 2510004, Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper No. 2014-28, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2510004

John R. Allison

University of Texas - McCombs School of Business ( email )

CBA 5.202
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

David L. Schwartz

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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