In an article entitled Ex-MS CTO dismisses patent problems, Builder UK quotes Nathan Myhrvold: “Patent litigation represents only 3 percent of federal lawsuits and there has been a steady decline in the number of lawsuits filed per patent, Myhrvold said. ”
Which I’m sure is true, but is only one take on the numbers. Another way to look at those numbers would be to say that between 1991 and 2000 the number of US patents issued annually increased by 64%, and that over the same period the number of patent infringement lawsuits increased 111%. (Peruse the other numbers on the linked page, as well.)
As I’ve mentioned before, a decrease in the number of suits filed per patent doesn’t necessarily indicate a healthy environment when the number of patents issued is increasing so dramatically. The raw number of patent infringement lawsuits is still increasing, and the money that goes towards supporting those lawsuits — rather than, say, research and development budgets — is increasing right along with it.