Patent Lawsuit Duration | Length of Patent Litigation
How many years does it take to settle patent litigation? What is the average length of a patent lawsuit?




How long does patent infringement litigation take?

Here a some examples of the varying lengths of time it has taken to conclude patent litigation cases. 

15 years.  Number of years it took to reach a settlement in the Polaroid lawsuit against Kodak for infringement on Polaroid’s instant camera patent.  “Eastman Kodak Co. paid $925 million to Polaroid Corp. yesterday as part of a surprise out-of-court settlement of their historic 15-year legal battle over Kodak's infringement of Polaroid's patents on instant camera technology.”  Length of patent litigation.  (Lawrence Edelman, Globe Staff, “Kodak pays Polaroid $925m Part of a surprise out-of-court settlement ends 15-year legal hassle,” The Boston Globe, July 16, 1991)

12 years.  Length of the legal struggle of inventor Robert W. Kearns against Ford Motor Company over windshield wiper patent infringement.  “Ford Motor Co. yesterday agreed to pay $10.2 million to settle its contentious legal bout with inventor Robert W. Kearns, a former Maryland resident who has accused Ford and 22 other automakers of stealing his patents for intermittent windshield wipers now used on millions of cars worldwide.  The 63-year-old Kearns, who contends that the 12-year legal struggle cost him an emotional breakdown and the breakup of his marriage, said through his attorneys that he will press forward with similar suits against Chrysler Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and other automakers, using the proceeds from the Ford judgment to finance those cases.  …A federal jury in January found that Ford had unintentionally infringed on Kearns's patents.” Patent litigation statistics.  (Warren Brown, “Ford, Inventor Settle Wiper Suit; Robert W. Kearns to Get $10.2 Million, Plans to Sue Others,” Washington Post, November 15, 1990)

8 years.  Number of years it took to settle lawsuit against Microsoft brought by Eolas Technologies and the University of California.  “Microsoft said Thursday that it had settled an eight-year patent dispute that resulted in a $521 million jury verdict against it. Terms of the accord were not disclosed.  The dispute centered on a feature within Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser that allows embedded links. The patent is owned by the University of California and licensed to Eolas Technologies, a closely held company formed by a university researcher, Michael Doyle.  We’re pleased to be able to reach an amicable resolution in this long-running dispute, said Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman.” Eolas Technologies inc. v. Microsoft Corp.  (“Microsoft Settles a Dispute Over a Feature in Its Browser,” The New York Times, August 31, 2007)

4 years.  Estimated amount of time it would take to litigate a patent dispute with Microsoft for a small company with a 50% chance of winning.  “Paul Hayes of Mintz Levin in Boston said companies can benefit significantly by striking a contingent fee deal.  If you're in-house counsel for a $3 to $4 million company and you ask how much it costs to go against a Microsoft of the world, I'll say you have to budget $2 million and you need four years with a 50 percent chance of winning, he said.  Even if the company could afford the legal fees, the board of directors will probably nix it and say they are better off using the money for research and development, Hayes noted.  Under a contingent fee arrangement, the company might agree to pay the expenses, which could amount to $1 million over four years, and share a percentage of the recovery. (Sylvia Hsieh, “More patent cases are being taken on contingency fee basis,” Lawyers USA, August 14, 2006)

2 - 3 years.  Length of time it takes for the average patent case to be litigated.  “An average patent case will cost between $3 million and $10 million, and take two to three years to litigate.” Average duration of patent litigation.  (Sylvia Hsieh, “More patent cases are being taken on contingency fee basis,” Lawyers USA, August 14, 2006)

2 years (3 years if there is an appeal).   Estimated average length of patent litigation.  “The average patent litigation lasts about two years and costs about $3 million. An appeal can add another $2 million and one year to that estimate.” (Cohen Pontani Lieberman & Pavane LLP, New York, “US - Litigation: Cost and duration of patent litigation,” Managing Intellectual Property, February 2009)

2 years.  “The typical U.S. patent [litigation] case takes two years to resolve.”  (Jim Landers, “Trouble impending in patent process,” The Dallas Morning News, May 1, 2007)