One of the factors considered by district court judges in deciding whether to stay a case pending patent reexamination is the likelihood that the proceeding will simplify issues for trial. Typically, litigants will cite to published USPTO reexamination statistics in the hopes of persuading the court that simplification will/will not result.
For example, recent ex parte reexamination statistics indicate that all claims are confirmed in 23% of cases, all claims cancelled in 12% of cases, and some claims amended in 65% of cases. As such, defendants will argue that in 77% of cases there are claim changes (cancellation + amendment). On the other hand, plaintiffs will take the other extreme and emphasize the 12% of cases in which all claims are cancelled– reasoning that there is a very low likelihood that the case will be completely disposed of via patent reexamination. However, in deciding whether or not stay a district court litigation pending patent reexamination, perhaps a more helpful statistic to courts would be the % of cases concluding with at least 1 confirmed claim.
Since the USPTO does not provide such statistics, I have compiled them for the last 12 months (Feb. 2010 – Feb. 2011). As shown below, I have broken out ex parte and inter partes cases separately. Confirmed claims were those claims that were actively reexamined and indicated as confirmed in the reexamination certificate, or claims amended to include dependent claims only. The charts below represent the 807 certificates printed from February 2010 – February 2011.
Ex Parte Patent Reexamination 59% of Cases Have 1 Claim Confirmed
Inter Partes Patent Reexamination 41% of Cases Have 1 Claim Confirmed
These survival rates demonstrate that there is much more to the story than the all-or-nothing USPTO statistics, and the combined cancellation/amendment figures of defendants.