Unified Report: Reexaminations Double; Samsung, Apple and Google Dominate PTAB Filings

“Reexaminations have more than doubled since the third quarter of 2020, making up for any decline that can be seen in litigation and PTAB filings.”

https://depositphotos.com/21279887/stock-photo-report-concept.htmlNote (1/11/2021): the third chart in this article has been updated by Unified Patents, as the original chart  incorrectly identified Ericsson as an NPE.

Reexaminations continue to gain favor, seeing a 47% increase over last year; the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) sees fewer filings; and filings by non-practicing entities (NPEs) rose by 4%, according to Unified Patents’ 2021 Patent Dispute Report: Year in Review, published earlier this week.

The PTAB saw a nearly 12% decline in filings from the previous year, whereas district court proceedings remained unchanged, said the report. It added: “Operating companies filed 5.5% less cases in district court and over 10% less filings at the PTAB.”

During the final quarter of 2021, there were 889 district court filings, a decrease from Q3 of 2021. Like the year-to-year trend, the fourth quarter saw a drop in PTAB filings. However, “[r]eexaminations have more than doubled since the third quarter of 2020, making up for any decline that can be seen in litigation and PTAB filings.”

The high-tech industry is responsible for the majority of patent litigation occurring both in district court and at the PTAB. NPEs are responsible for 87% of all district court assertions in the high-tech space. The overall number of filings by NPEs increased by 4% this year.


Texas remains a hotbed for patent litigation, with the Eastern District and Western District of Texas being the venue of choice for 37% of all patent suits. This year, Judge Alan Albright of the Western District of Texas faced north of a dozen Abuse of Discretion orders from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on transfers, but the Western District is still the most popular venue, with 25% of all patent litigation being conducted there. The Western District is especially favored by NPEs, which are defined in the report as any “company which derives the majority of its total revenue from Patent Licensing activities.” In fact, 83% of the patent cases in the Western District of Texas are filed by NPEs, according to the report.

Litigating at the PTAB

Inter Partes Review (IPR) remains the most popular option for patent owners opting to file at the PTAB. Samsung is the most frequent PTAB petitioner, with 130 petitions over the first half of 2021. Unlike prior years, there is now an effort to target operating companies rather than only NPEs. Of the top 10 patent owners at the PTAB, only four are NPEs.

Apple and Google came in second and third, with 69 and 52 petitions filed respectively. Unified filed 24 petitions at the PTAB, bringing them in as the fifth most prolific petitioner of 2021, ahead of both Microsoft and Facebook.

According to Unified’s methodology, the report includes all district court and PTAB litigations between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2021, with the exception of “mistaken, duplicative, or changes in venue filings, hence the totals may vary slightly compared to other reporting entities.”




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Join the Discussion

4 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Jeffrey Grayzel]
    Jeffrey Grayzel
    January 11, 2022 09:02 pm

    Can you please provide us some insights as to why there has been a spike in reexaminations and what is driving the shift to reexaminations? Perhaps this is a topic unto itself and could be a “part 2” to this article. Thank you.

  • [Avatar for Shawn Ambwani]
    Shawn Ambwani
    January 11, 2022 12:37 am

    Thanks. You are right Ericsson is not an NPE in our definition. It has been fixed in the full report.

  • [Avatar for Jim]
    January 10, 2022 12:58 pm

    Ericsson is an NPE?

  • [Avatar for Josh Malone]
    Josh Malone
    January 9, 2022 01:30 pm

    The CRU examiners want in on the lucrative big tech kickbacks that dishonest PTAB judges have been banking.