Volume of IP Complaints in U.S. Courts Down in January

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By Malathi Nayak

Intellectual property infringement complaints in U.S. federal courts were down in January from a month ago, with the largest decline in patent infringement claims, according to Bloomberg Law data.

Patent infringement filings in January totaled 294 lawsuits, down 31 percent from December, but up 5 percent from a year ago. January tends to be a slow month for patent infringement filings.

Legal changes over the past few years have made it harder for patent licensing companies, also called non-practicing entities, to mount and win legal fights. However, NPEs still lead in volume of suits. Kevique Technology LLC and Symbology Innovations LLC, both NPEs, were among the top filers of patent complaints in January.

Copyright complaints in January rose 4 percent from December to 222. The volume of January complaints dropped about 1 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier. Copyright volumes continued to fluctuate with sporadic activity in recent months from Malibu Media LLC, the largest volume copyright litigant of 2016.

Among the top filers of copyright complaints was ME2 Productions Inc., which filed lawsuits against online piracy of its action movie “Mechanic: Resurrection” starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba. ME2 is a subsidiary of Hollywood studio Millennium Films that filed more than 200 complaints in 2016 related to downloads of its various films, including “London has Fallen,” the sequel to the blockbuster “Olympus has Fallen” starring Morgan Freeman.

Trademark Suits Slip

Trademark complaints totaled 216 in January, down 4 percent from December and 8.4 percent lower compared with the same period a year ago.

Sream Inc., the U.S. licensee of Roor, a German maker of water pipes for smoking, was among the top filers of trademark suits in January. Volumes of trademark lawsuits were relatively flat through last year, with counterfeit enforcement making up the bulk of docket activity.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas remained the busiest IP court in January with 106 cases filed— all patent cases. Patent cases filed in the court were up 12 percent in January, compared with the same period last year.

This year, the Supreme Court will address the hot-button issue of patent owners handpicking patentee-friendly courts for patent infringement cases. The court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC could force a shift in where patent holders can bring infringement suits and reduce the dominance of the Eastern District of Texas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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