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Numbers indicate drop in IP lawsuits in 2016

Data from Bloomberg shows that intellectual property lawsuits fell in U.S. federal courts in 2016. That may sound surprising, but it is actually part of a trend that has been ongoing since 2014.

More specifically, patent infringement and copyright infringement lawsuits both fell in 2016 by considerable margin. Patent infringement lawsuits totaled 4,624 in 2016, which is a decline of about 22 percent. Meanwhile, copyright infringement lawsuits plummeted by 25 percent in 2016, with about 3,811 such legal complaints being filed.

Analysts are unsure how to interpret the numbers going forward, but there are indications that there could be a stabilizing effect on the number of intellectual property lawsuits in the year 2017. Of course, such perceived stability could be tossed aside very quickly if new laws or actions are taken by elected officials or lawmakers.

There are a couple of things to glean from this news. The first is that just because the numbers went down for intellectual property lawsuits, doesn't mean that companies suddenly started behaving better. There are still individuals or companies that will infringe on patents and copyrights going forward. There were still thousands and thousands of IP lawsuits last year, even with these declines.

Also, this story just reiterates that companies need to stand vigilant when it comes to protecting their intellectual property. Just because numbers are dropping doesn't mean you should get complacent and think that your patent or trademark is perfectly safe. Be active, and protect your IP.

Source: Bloomberg, "Patent, Copyright Lawsuit Volumes Fall in 2016," Malathi Nayak, Jan. 17, 2016

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