Stanford Launches IP Litigation Clearinghouse

On Monday, December 8, 2008, the Law, Science & Technology Program at Stanford Law School launched the Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse (IPLC), a unique online database that offers comprehensive information about intellectual property disputes within the United States. This publicly available, online research tool will enable scholars, policymakers, lawyers, judges, and journalists to review real-time data about IP legal disputes that have been filed across the country, and ultimately to analyze the system that regulates patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.

The Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse database includes real-time data summaries, industry indices, and trend analysis together with a full-text search engine, providing detailed and timely information that cannot be found elsewhere in the public domain. Stanford Law School, along with its partner organizations that funded the development and provided industry insight, are releasing the IPLC in phased modules, and today’s release, the Patent Litigation Module, includes more than 23,000 cases filed in U.S. district courts since 2000-raw data for every district court patent case and all results (outcomes and opinions).

“Patent litigation is a big risk for most companies because there is great uncertainty about the outcome,” said Mark Lemley, who spearheaded the development of the IPLC and who is the William H. Neukom Professor of Law and the director of the Law, Science & Technology Program. “The IPLC offers searchable, accessible data on all U.S. patent cases since 2000, so it allows lawyers to research factors in litigation and help them arrive at more rational business decisions-before they litigate. Similarly, it allows judges to define what patent terms mean based on past cases and interpretations and to rely on data to inform settlement negotiations. We built this tool in part so that lawyers and judges could get more certainty.”

“But,” Lemley continued, “we also built this tool so that scholars and policymakers could help Congress reform the patent system in rational ways, based on what’s really happening rather than our perception of what’s happening. For example, today there are patent reforms under consideration in Congress focused on the problem of litigation abuse which floods the courts with unnecessary litigation and holds up the true innovators. One of the most talked about examples of this abuse is the phenomenon of ‘patent trolls.’ But no one can agree on how many trolls there are out there… The IPLC offers us the data we need to do empirical analysis and develop the best possible reforms.”

The IPLC was developed by the Law, Science & Technology Program within Stanford Law School with the generous support of a diverse group of industry and philanthropic partners who represent a wide range of industries as well as a good cross section of potential users, and who collectively form a neutral group of financial supporters since their own business interests stand apart from or, in some cases, compete with other members of the group; those partners include: Cisco Systems Inc.; Cornerstone Research; Fenwick & West LLP; Genentech, Inc.; Intel Corporation; the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Oracle; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Qualcomm Inc.; SAP America, Inc.; and Winston & Strawn LLP.

“We have concrete data at our fingertips for the first time,” said Gordon Davidson, chairman of Fenwick & West, who is also an advisor to the Law, Science & Technology Program, and a Stanford Law School alumnus. “Now, in addition to offering our clients the best legal talent, we can use the IPLC to help our clients make more deeply informed business decisions about the merits of litigation-based on the history of similar IP lawsuits, on court rulings by jurisdiction, the average cost of settlement, and other intelligence.”

As part of the development process, an early version of the IPLC was made available to roughly 200 IP scholars across the country in August 2008, as well as to philanthropic supporters, so that both groups could help test the system and maximize its usefulness. On an ongoing basis, IPLC affiliated scholars at Stanford Law School will be issuing successive reports on various topics, including trends in patent litigation, settlements, and case outcomes. The IPLC data will also be available to scholars everywhere, so that they can produce their own, independent studies. Most importantly, all three branches of government-judicial, executive, and legislative-may use the IPLC to track, manage, analyze, and debate IP litigation in real time.

“Stanford Law School is a leading center for empirical legal analysis, interdisciplinary research, and innovation in legal practice,” said Dean Larry Kramer. “We first developed the Stanford Class Action Clearinghouse, a pioneering system which, by making class actions more transparent to everyone, helped to reshape and streamline securities law and policy. Now, the Stanford IP Litigation Clearinghouse offers the next generation of tools to help scholars, law- and policymakers better understand our IP system and reform IP law and policy.”

“We are developing a core element of the U.S. intellectual property infrastructure,” said Joshua Walker, who directed the IPLC’s creation. “The IPLC is agnostic on policy, indifferent to popular myth (from any source), and intensely focused on illuminating empirical reality-the truth-however complex, counterintuitive, or discomfiting about IP litigation,” he added. “The bedrock of the system is based on tens of thousands of hours of vigorous legal review and discussion with leading experts, like Mark Lemley. And out of necessity (and the weight of nearly 80,000 highly complex, IP related lawsuits), we have had to develop some radically new approaches to IP analytics. Our academic mission is to empower individuals-attorneys, judges, and many others-to make the best decisions possible, as efficiently as possible. We are just getting started.”

“As the cosponsor of the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, we know how important it is for the legal community to have access to reliable empirical data,” said Dr. Matt Lynde, Vice President at Cornerstone Research. “We believe the IPLC will provide such a resource for intellectual property litigation as well. We are very excited about the research opportunities now available, as well as how the results of such research may aid the legal community not only in resolving disputes, but also in reducing the costs of resolution and providing insights for business and policy decision makers in the future.”


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