The Stanford Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) Litigation Database (the Database) is the first publicly available database to track comprehensively how practicing entities, non-practicing entities, and patent assertion entities (PAEs) use patents in litigation. NPEs are entities that do not make products or offer services. PAEs—often called “patent trolls”—are NPEs that employ patents primarily to obtain license fees, rather than to support the transfer or commercialization of technology. Patent litigation by practicing entities, PAEs, and other types of NPEs including universities and early-stage startups differs in its purpose and impact on innovation, so the Database enables more sophisticated research into the working of the U.S. patent system.
To complete the Database, Stanford Law student researchers review every lawsuit filed in U.S. district courts from 2000 to the present and identify each patent plaintiff as either a practicing entity or as one of eleven types of NPE. The project report, Who’s Suing Us? Decoding Patent Plaintiffs since 2000 with the Stanford NPE Litigation Dataset defines the twelve categories of patent owner. It also includes descriptive statistics and trends in the share of U.S. patent litigation attributable to patent owners in each category, based on a random sample of over 10,800 lawsuits filed from 2000 to 2015. Additional information on the genesis of this project is available at https://law.stanford.edu/projects/stanford-npe-litigation-database/.
Using the Database
Users must register to access the Database. Registered users can search the database by a variety of fields, including plaintiff type, party name, and patent number, as detailed on the Examples of Searches page linked above.
Current Database Coverage
Review of nearly 70,000 patent lawsuits filed from 2000 through 2020 is complete and is available for registered users to search and download. Recent and future cases will be updated in the Database on an ongoing basis.