Burford Quarterly

Trends in IP & patent litigation

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Intellectual property and patents shape corporate growth, credibility and profitability, but the litigation associated with IP and patents is known for its high cost, complexity and duration. In 2021, IP and patent litigation stakes were heightened by disputes related to Covid vaccine development and a spate of nine-figure mega-verdicts across industries. 

While it’s not news that patent litigation can result in very sizeable monetary damages, the uptick in activity nonetheless drew headlines. Going into 2022, patent holders from small to large entities are increasingly aware of this development and are becoming more sophisticated in evaluating and asserting patent portfolio value. Below, we explore the key patent litigation trends that companies can expect in 2022.

Patent holders will turn to divestitures to indirectly monetize corporate patent portfolios

Often, operating companies and universities with patent portfolios have business conflicts or reputational concerns that prevent them from pursuing affirmative litigation as named plaintiffs. While not exclusively, many such patent holders are electing to sell or divest patents to special purpose vehicles (SPVs) to monetize value without assuming reputational risk or damaging client relationships.

Still, many companies remain uncertain as to how best to capitalize on patent value and evaluate the risk/reward of pursuing infringement clams. Even those companies with large patent portfolios and established affirmative recovery programs may not know whether their portfolios are litigation-grade—particularly if the patents weren’t prosecuted with affirmative licensing in mind.

Whether such companies capitalize on their patents through divestitures or not, all have invested significant amounts of time and money into developing patents and intellectual property and are wise to explore their portfolios’ true value. By working with a legal finance provider, patent holders benefit from otherwise unavailable third-party data, gain access to experts in evaluating litigation assets and receive guidance on how to best capitalize on their patent portfolio and improve or implement an affirmative recovery program.

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About the author

Katharine Wolanyk is a Managing Director with responsibility for leading Burford’s award-winning intellectual property and patent litigation finance business. She is an industry leader in financing intellectual property and patent litigation and writes and speaks frequently on intellectual property issues.

Christopher Freeman is a Vice President with responsibility for assessing and underwriting legal risk in patent matters. As part of Burford’s investment team, he evaluates intellectual property cases and patent monetization campaigns and crafts investment structures that align incentives among funder, law firm and claimant.

Read Christopher Freeman's Profile
Christopher Freeman

Christopher Freeman

Senior Vice President

Read Katharine Wolanyk's Profile
Katharine Wolanyk

Katharine Wolanyk

Managing Director