intellectual property—have increased in value relative to plant and equipment assets.
Another area of rapid growth in patent activity is litigation and legal representation, the latter in all formal processes involving patents (i.e., patent prosecutions, licensing, and litigation). The number of patent lawsuits settled in or disposed by federal district courts doubled between 1988 and 2001, from 1,200 to nearly 2,400 (see Figure 2-3).20
The number of practitioners specializing in intellectual property law and affiliating with the American Bar Association (ABA) Intellectual Property Section increased 39 percent between 1996 and 2002 while the ABA membership overall grew 6 percent over the same period (see Figure 2-4).
Many companies rely less on patents than on other means such as marketing, lead time, production and distribution efficiencies, secrecy, and complementary services to achieve market advantages. That is particularly true from the perspective of R&D managers, who, with the notable exceptions of those in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and medical equipment, have in a series of surveys ranked patents fairly low as a means of protecting inventions and exploiting inventions