There are 5,000 to 6,000 patent cases filed in the United States every year. Although each case may vary slightly, a basic timeline for a patent litigation suit includes:
- Complaint. First, a complaint is generally filed. This stage may involve an injunction. Patent litigation generally proceeds within U.S. District Courts, U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). At this stage, there may also be a motion filed to dismiss the claim or transfer the case to a different district. This strategy can slow the process or help to get the case into a more defendant friendly district.
- Discovery. It is not uncommon for cases to settle before reaching this phase. This is true of approximately 50% of all IP cases. This process generally includes initial disclosures, interrogatories, document requests and depositions. In addition to discovery, this second phase often includes the claim construction briefing and hearing as well as the selection of experts.
- Trial. Although the majority of cases settle before reaching trial, it is crucial to carefully proceed through the first two phases to better ensure success if your case moves forward.
These cases generally average a time to trial of about 2.4 years. The cost of litigation is generally contingent on the range of damages.
Once reviewing the timeline, a patent holder may wonder whether or not it is beneficial to move forward with the case. It is important to take the scope, nature, and risks of the infringement as well as the case logistics into consideration before deciding. It is wise to seek legal advice on the full impact of these factors on your situation before making a decision to move forward or stand down.