Pedram Sameni
Oct 25, 2023

Patexia Insight 190: CAFC Outcomes Distribution in PTAB, District Courts, and ITC Appeals

CAFC Litigation

Tomorrow marks the release of our third annual CAFC Intelligence 2023 Report. This comprehensive report delves into the wealth of statistics and rankings stemming from appeals filed from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2022. It provides a bird's-eye view of high-level statistics related to patent litigation in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) while also evaluating and ranking the top-performing and most active stakeholders, including companies, law firms, and attorneys. The CAFC plays a pivotal role in shaping the patent law landscape, underscoring the invaluable nature of our annual reports for legal professionals, corporations, and all those engaged in the realm of intellectual property.

Today's insight will analyze the various outcomes of the terminated appeals and explore how these outcomes are distributed among appeals originating from different sources. This analysis unveils distinctive patterns within the CAFC landscape. During the period of our study, a total of 4,182 appeals were filed and as of September 1, 2023, 3,629 of these appeals have been terminated. The chart below summarizes the outcomes:

Our analysis reveals that nearly half of the appeals (44.28%) led to affirmations, indicating that the CAFC upheld the decisions made by the lower courts. Approximately one-third of the cases (35.66%) ended in dismissals. A significant portion (10.33%) received partial orders, encompassing outcomes such as 'Affirmed-in-Part,' 'Reversed-in-Part,' 'Vacated-in-Part,' or 'Remanded-in-Part,' among others. 'Vacated' and 'Remanded' combined to constitute 8.29% of the concluded cases. In contrast, 'Reversed' decisions were relatively rare, accounting for only 1.75% of the total appeals that reached their conclusion.

This data offers valuable insights into the outcomes of patent-related appeals at the CAFC during this period. The majority of cases either upheld lower court decisions or resulted in dismissals. The presence of partial orders indicates a nuanced approach to resolving these cases, often with mixed results on different issues. The low percentage of 'Reversed' decisions suggests the court's tendency to affirm lower court rulings or provide nuanced resolutions. These statistics highlight the challenge of securing reversals or partial judgments, although success may be more likely when significant procedural errors in the lower court have influenced the case's outcome.

While these percentages provide a broad overview, what's even more intriguing is the nuanced distribution of outcomes when we delve into the origins of the appeals from different venues. CAFC patent-related appeals originate from three distinct venues: the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which includes proceedings such as inter partes reviews (IPRs) and post-grant reviews (PGRs); International Trade Commission (ITC) Section 337 investigations; and patent infringement lawsuits in the U.S. District Courts. Each court—whether it be the PTAB, ITC, or district courts—brings its unique characteristics, leading to varying proportions of affirmations, dismissals, and other outcomes. Utilizing our Litigation Analyzer, we've delved deeper into CAFC cases, assessing their outcomes based on their originating courts as depicted below: 

The chart demonstrates that affirmation rates are relatively consistent for cases originating from the PTAB and district courts, with approximately 45% of cases affirmed. In contrast, appeals from the ITC exhibit a somewhat lower affirmation rate at 34.02%. Dismissals vary, with over 55% of ITC-originated appeals being dismissed, while PTAB cases have a lower dismissal rate at 38.07%, and district court cases have an even lower rate at 29.71%. 'Vacated, Remanded' outcomes show some variation, ranging from 9.14% for PTAB cases to 7.28% for District Courts and 4.12% for the ITC. 'In-part' decisions exhibit less variation, standing at 7.19% for PTAB appeals and 6.19% for ITC appeals, while district court appeals have a higher rate of 16.28% for such outcomes. Reversals occur in 1.08% of PTAB-originated appeals, while they are more frequent, at 2.13%, in appeals originating from District Courts.

The full CAFC Intelligence Report provides an extensive range of statistics, shedding light on various aspects of the CAFC. Alongside the insightful data on outcomes from appeals stemming from different venues, the report delves into yearly filings, giving you a comprehensive overview of how the landscape has evolved over time. Furthermore, you'll find a breakdown of the origins of these appeals, allowing you to see which courts or venues contribute the most to the CAFC's caseload. The report also explores the ratio of precedential to non-precedential decisions, offering insights into the precedential significance of cases.

To assist you in gauging the key players in the CAFC realm, the report ranks attorneys, law firms, and companies by their activity and performance. These rankings are further categorized into appellants, appellees, and overall standings, providing a thorough analysis of who excels in each category. This wealth of data and insights provided by the report is actively employed by law firms to facilitate business development and marketing, by corporations for informed decision-making and the careful selection of legal counsel, by recruiting firms to streamline lateral recruiting processes, and by litigation funds to efficiently identify suitable partners.

Stay tuned, as in the following weeks, we will be covering more in-depth insights and highlights from the CAFC Intelligence Report 2023. Furthermore, we will be covering some of the most active and best performing entities in patent and trademark prosecution, as well as ANDA litigation.