Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Lex Machina Trademark Litigation Report: Trademark Litigation Alive and Well in the U.S.

Lex Machina, the IP data analytics firm, recently released its "teaser" Trademark Litigation Report (Report).  The Report reviews and gleans insight from U.S. District Court trademark cases pending between 2009 to March 31, 2015.  The Press Release for the Report notes several eye-catching statistics:

[Over] 6,900 . . .  cases where permanent injunctions were granted, and . . . over $9 billion in cumulative damages awarded in trademark cases since 2009.  More than 24,000 trademark cases have been filed since 2009, with over 4,000 new cases filed in 2014 alone.

Unsurprisingly, trademark litigation is ubiquitous given the value of brands and the nature of the law itself, which encourages litigation to protect and expand the legal protection of a trademark.  However, the sheer number of suits is always impressive to see. The Report dives into several case studies concerning specific brand owners.  Interestingly, Deckers ($3.4 billion) and Chanel (and almost $1 billion) account for almost half of the damages awarded.  Moreover, the vast majority of the damages awarded come after a default judgment—most of the rest result from consent judgments.  It would be interesting to know how much is actually collected. 

Some of the other interesting information in the Report concerns the amount of time it takes to obtain various types of injunctions, top districts for trademark and related filings, and data concerning types of judgments and findings by the courts reviewed.  For example, the Report notes that permanent injunctions are issued faster in cases only involving trademark claims as opposed to cases involving trademark and patent or copyright claims.  Moreover, preliminary injunctions in cybersquatting cases alone are issued faster than trademark claims alone. The top five districts for trademark filings include two California districts: the Central District (coming in first by far) and the Northern District.

The Report utilizes, in part, the following methodology in collecting data:

This report draws on data from Lex Machina’s proprietary intellectual property litigation database. Although some of our data is derived from litigation information publicly available from PACER (the federal court system’s document website), Lex Machina applies additional layers of intelligence to bring consistency to, and ensure the completeness of, the data. Beyond the automation, key areas of Lex Machina’s data are either human-reviewed or hand-coded by a dedicated team of attorneys to ensure accuracy.

You can obtain a copy of the Report by registering with Lex Machina here.  It is a quick and interesting read.  Has there been a similar study on trademark litigation in other parts of the world?

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