With California and New York federal courts seeing the fewest trademark filings in a decade, some IP attorneys have expressed concern that competition for the best clients and cases is likely to heat up in 2017.

As Trevor Little sees it in his article for World Trademark Review entitled “US trademark litigation filings on course for 16-year low,” American corporate teams most likely have adopted a much more conservative approach to protecting their IP than in years past.

The latest available data from Lex Machina estimates that 3,529 trademark litigation suits will be filed in the United States in 2016. If so, the level of filings will be the lowest since 2001. For law firms, competition for the trademark litigation dollar seems set to intensify.

This week on our sister title, IAM, Richard Lloyd reported that the latest estimates from Lex Machina suggest that US patent lawsuits are set to drop dramatically in 2016. He noted that, if that prediction is accurate then it would mean that patent litigation will be at a level not seen since 2011. Similarly, copyright cases are expected to drop to 2013 levels, after six years of consecutive rises. The picture for trademarks is more marked.

In May, Lex Machina’s Trademark Report 2015 found that trademark litigation appeared to be on the slide, with 795 cases filed in the first quarter of this year– the lowest since the start of 2009 and down almost 10% on the same quarter last year. That figure has subsequently risen a little (832 are now reported for Q1), but it still represents a significant drop.

This downward trend is expected to be reflected in the total number of filings across the year. In the year to date, 3,130 trademark litigation cases have been filed – compared to 3,276 in the comparative period in 2015 and 4,051 in 2014. Based on filing trends and data, Lex Machina further estimates that, by year end, 3,529 trademark cases will have been filed.  If that prediction is filed, it will represent a 16-year low.

For the rest of the story, check out Where have all the lawsuits gone?