California federal courts saw patent cases fall last year, and attorneys say with judges in the Golden State showing a greater willingness to invalidate patents in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice decision, nonpracticing entities are concentrating on launching their litigation campaigns in friendlier jurisdictions outside the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice ruling in June held that abstract ideas implemented using a computer aren’t eligible for a patent, putting at risk many software patents often asserted by nonpracticing entities.

The Supreme Court’s Alice decision and the inter partes review proceedings are pushing nonpracticing entities to conduct more measured pre-filing evaluations and that is leading some to decide not to file suit, according to Brian LaCorte, a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP.

“Nonpracticing entities face the risk of not only a federal judge saying their patent is invalid, but also a parallel proceeding before the [Patent Trial and Appeal Board] saying the same thing,” he said.

The Alice decision and renewed efforts in Congress to pass a patent bill that includes a provision requiring losing parties to pay their opponent's fees in many patent cases indicate that patent filings in California and elsewhere may continue to go down, according to LaCorte.

“I do think the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice will have a long-lasting effect on the level of patent filings, and I think there is at least the possibility that a fee-shifting statute may come out of Congress,” he said. “All signs seem to be pointing to long-lasting reform and further reform that should reduce questionable patent cases going forward.”

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