Does KSR Mean Patent Reform Isn't Needed?

Regular readers know I like hard data, including statistics or other quantitative support for a position. In their absence, most legal and policy arguments are, well, just opinions. With that in mind, LegalMetric, which studies and reports on patent litigation data, has provided an interesting snapshot of the impact on patent infringement litigation of the Supreme Court’s KSR ruling from a few months back. The company’s findings: that “[s]ince the Supreme Court decision in KSR, patent owner win rates [have fallen] substantially below their long-term averages.” You can find some slides provided by the company that detail their findings here, which the company has offered to let me post with the proviso that I note that the data is their property.

Now, KSR, for those of you readers who aren’t patent people, made it, in theory, easier to invalidate a patent and therefore to defend against a claim of patent infringement, as discussed here. The findings reported by LegalMetric obviously reflects a small snapshot of a very short window in time, but if it holds up, it would suggest that patent reform, which is being pursued vigorously at the federal level by corporations who are frequently targeted by patent infringement suits, is not really needed to stem the claimed tide of unsupportable and vexatious patent infringement suits. Rather, the only thing actually needed may have been to tweak the courts’ interpretation and application of existing patent law, a pro-defendant tweak that the Supreme Court, based on this data, very clearly provided with its ruling in KSR.