How Often Do Non-Practicing Entities Win Patent Suits?

74 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2016 Last revised: 17 Apr 2020

Date Written: March 18, 2016


Much of the policy debate over the patent system has focused on the perceived problems with non-practicing entities (NPEs), also called patent trolls. Drawing on a comprehensive data set we built of every patent lawsuit filed in 2008 and 2009 that resulted in a ruling on the merits, we find that the situation is rather more complicated than simply operating companies vs. NPEs. While operating companies fare better in litigation than NPEs overall, breaking NPEs into different categories reveals more complexity. Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) in particular win very few cases. Further, once we remove certain pharmaceutical cases from the mix, no patent plaintiff fares very well. That is particularly true of software, computer, and electronics patents.

Suggested Citation

Allison, John R. and Lemley, Mark A. and Schwartz, David L., How Often Do Non-Practicing Entities Win Patent Suits? (March 18, 2016). 32 Berkeley Technology Law Journal 235 (2017), Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 485, Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 2750128, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-08, Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 16-03, Available at SSRN:

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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