The number of US suits dropped 13 percent to 5,700 in the fiscal year ended in September, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s PwC. Median damage awards from judges and juries fell to $2 million, the second-lowest amount in 20 years, PwC said in the study released Wednesday.
The findings signal a reversal of the rising number of lawsuits in the past decade, which led companies such as Google Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. to lobby Congress for curbs on patent-licensing firms. Often derided as “trolls,” the companies profit by obtaining patents cheaply and turning them into big payouts with lawsuits or royalty demands. Even after passing a 2011 law overhauling the patent system, lawmakers are weighing more lawsuit curbs, such as making the loser pay the winner’s court costs.