For the first time since 2009, new patent lawsuit filings declined in 2014 from the previous year. Lawsuits dropped by 13 percent, a significant shift from the numbers of cases over the previous five years, caused in part by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Alice ruling, according to a new study released Wednesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has quietly adopted a rule that will increase pleading standards for filing patent lawsuits. In an order in late April, the high court without comment adopted changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that were approved in September by the Judicial Conference of the U.S. and will take effect Dec. 1. unless they are modified by Congress, which is considering bills that would raise patent pleading standards even beyond what the new rule requires.

The rule changes cover several areas, but one is of particular concern in patent litigation: the abolition of Rule 84, which provides model forms that attorneys can rely on in several situations, including Form 18, a model patent complaint.On Form 18, a plaintiff is required to include include little more in a patent complaint than the name and number of the patent and an allegation of infringement. The Judicial Conference said that such model complaints are outdated.

The elimination of Form 18 would just subject patent complaints to the pleading standards established by the Supreme Court in its landmark Twombly and Iqbal decisions, which require plaintiffs demonstrate that their claims are plausible, rather than simply putting the defendant on notice of the claim.
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