This is the second in a series of six Q&As with Baker Botts partners addressing the most significant developments in their practice areas this year, as well as their outlook for 2015. The Q&As will be posted throughout the remainder of the year.
Bart Showalter is Firmwide Chair of the Intellectual Property Department at Baker Botts. His practice focuses on all aspects of intellectual property law, with a particular emphasis on patent litigation, procurement and licensing in the electronics, telecommunications and software fields.
What types of intellectual property suits have been most prevalent this year and what should we expect in 2015? What does this say about the trajectory of the industry?
BS: There has been a significant trend of “competitor cases” this year, where companies in the high tech and energy sectors sue their competitors due to pressure to stay at the top in the marketplace. With more companies entering into the tech and energy industries next year, this trend will undoubtedly continue.
With the uptick in data security threats, privacy issues and Internet governance this year how will the approach to IP litigation and filing change or evolve in 2015?
BS: In order to understand how people are attacking the networks, lawyers with technical degrees will be very important in handling these cases. Companies are taking a hard look at the agreements they are involved in, especially as it relates to data security and privacy issues. However, I do not expect there to be an uptick in data security litigation in 2015, but rather, an uptick in counseling of clients with a smart technical team of lawyers.
Given the landscape, do you anticipate an increase or decrease in patent filings and patents granted next year? What factors will impact this?
BS: I do not think there will be a growth in patent filings as companies begin to realize that the focus should be on quality and not quantity when filing a patent. In 2015, I foresee a decline in patent filings as companies spend more time and allocate more resources towards filing quality patents.
Stay tuned for next week’s Q&A featuring Baker Botts’ Partner Bill Bumpers discussing 2015’s key environmental issues.