Article

Do Standard-Essential Patent Owners Behave Opportunistically? Evidence from U.S. District Court Dockets

Brian Love, Yassine Lefouili, and Christian Helmers

Abstract

To what extent and with what effect do owners of standard-essential patents (SEPs) “hold-up” companies that produce standard-compliant products? To explore this question, we construct measures of opportunistic patent licensing behaviors using detailed information collected from the dockets of U.S. patent cases filed (2010-2019) to enforce SEPs and a matched sample of non-SEPs. Overall, we find evidence of opportunistic behavior by the patent enforcer in approximately 77% of SEP and 65% of non-SEP assertions in court. The figures mask important heterogeneity. There is significantly more opportunistic conduct aimed at increasing a potential licensee’s loss if the patent enforcer prevails in court: 35% of SEP assertions vs. 10% of non-SEP assertions. In contrast, conduct that increases a potential licensee’s litigation costs is less common and the difference between SEP assertions (8%) and non-SEP assertions (6%) is small. We also show that opportunistic behavior is associated with case outcomes, with the effect on settlement depending on the type of opportunistic behavior. Behavior that increases a potential licensee’s litigation costs is associated with an increase in the probability of settlement, while behavior that increases a potential licensee’s loss if the patent enforcer prevails in court is negatively associated with settlement.

Keywords

Litigation; standards; patents; holdup; U.S;

JEL codes

  • K41: Litigation Process
  • O30: General

Reference

Brian Love, Yassine Lefouili, and Christian Helmers, Do Standard-Essential Patent Owners Behave Opportunistically? Evidence from U.S. District Court Dockets, American Law and Economics Review, 2024, forthcoming.

Published in

American Law and Economics Review, 2024, forthcoming