A recent article on GigaOm.com discusses a recent study which documents a significant spike in the number of patent suits being brought by NPEs (or “trolls” in common parlance), with such suits now making up nearly 40% of all patent litigation.
Even more disturbing is the fact that typical costs in patent litigation are now ranging from $650,000 to $5 Million (depending, largely, on the amounts of money at stake). This is a huge amount of money being tied up in IP fights that could otherwise be used in R&D or to otherwise drive innovation or fund job growth.
Of course, filed patent lawsuits are only the tip of the iceberg. This does not not include the impact of IP disputes which do not even reach the litigation stage involving threats, forced licensing deals, and disputes which settle on other bases before litigation.