A new study by James Bessen, Jennifer Ford and Michael J. Meurer in Cato’s Regulation magazine:
This article makes several findings about this litigation [patent litigation by non-practicing entities (NPEs)]. First, by observing what happens to a defendant’s stock price around the filing of a patent lawsuit, we are able to assess the effect of the lawsuit on the firm’s wealth, after taking into account general market trends and random factors affecting the individual stock. We find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010. During the last four years, the lost wealth has averaged over $80 billion per year. These defendants are mostly technology companies that invest heavily in R&D. To the extent that this litigation represents an unavoidable business cost to technology developers, it reduces the profits that these firms make on their technology investments. That is, these lawsuits substantially reduce their incentives to innovate.