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Stanford Law School Spins Off New Venture, Offering Commercial Access to Intellectual Property Legal Data

Publication Date: 
January 05, 2010
Source: 
Stanford Law School

Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse now run by private venture Lex Machina

STANFORD, Calif., January 5, 2010—Stanford Law School today announced the launch of a private venture in legal informatics called Lex Machina—the outgrowth of a research project called the Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse (IPLC). The IPLC was originally developed as an online research tool to provide real-time data on intellectual property litigation in the United States at no cost to scholars, policymakers, judges, and journalists—helping the citizenry, White House officers, federal judges, and others, see, evaluate, and ultimately improve the law of patents, copyrights, trademarks, antitrust, and trade secrets. Because the IPLC has grown so vast—developing into what is likely to become the largest legal-empirical database in the United States—a separate venture is being spun out to broaden, expand upon, and advance the system. The private venture Lex Machina will offer a commercial version of the clearinghouse at www.lexmachina.com, and host the public interest version Lex Machina IPLC Service, which will remain free to academicians, public interest researchers, judges, policymakers, and the media, at www.lexmachina.org.

"We realized that we had built this robust, highly useful product that serves the public interest and that also has very important commercial application,” said Mark Lemley, the William H. Neukom Professor of Law and the director of the Law, Science & Technology Program, “but maintaining and expanding it was a more expensive proposition then we could raise money for. So we decided to make it self-sustaining through a private venture model. Those who are conducting public interest research have a related, but different set of needs from those who are conducting commercial litigation. This venture is an attempt to serve both those needs and serve them well.”

Lex Machina is believed to be the first instance of an American law school incubating a commercial venture in the manner of an engineering department and is in keeping with Stanford University’s long tradition of hatching important breakthroughs and commercializing technological innovation. The technology underlying the IPLC, and now Lex Machina, is pathbreaking and classified as legal informatics, a nascent field.

When Lex Machina first launched as the Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse in December of 2008, the database included real-time data summaries, industry indices, and trend analysis together with a full-text search engine, providing detailed and timely information that could not be found elsewhere.

Now, the Lex Machina database has grown to cover more than 100,000 IP and antitrust cases filed in U.S. district courts since 2000, as well as outcome summaries on more than 25,000 patent infringement cases—data that can be rendered across roughly a billion different variables. And as of October, 31, 2009 more than 5,000 IP experts and government end users have benefitted from the site, including the White House, Department of Commerce, United States district courts, the Federal Circuit, IPLC advisor groups, more than 200 academicians, company and law firm supporters, non-profit lawyers, the National Academies, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The original IPLC project was the brainchild of Mark Lemley, a leading scholar of empirical research on IP law and policy. It was developed from scratch at Stanford Law School by Joshua Walker and George Gregory, and involved some of the nation’s top computer scientists through Stanford’s Department of Computer Science. The team has logged more than 35,000 hours of unique legal, engineering, and computer science work. Walker personally reviewed every single patent trial from 2000 on, along with tens of thousands of complex procedural events. Walker and Gregory are the founders of the commercial venture Lex Machina; Walker will serve as CEO.

“In addition to supporting the public interest charter, we plan to offer customized intelligence solutions that help in-house and law firm attorneys provide better, faster, more rigorous advice in ‘bet the company’ situations, and across the spectrum of IP litigation generally,” said Joshua Walker. “Specifically, we will offer access to advanced informatics systems and professional (expert) data tools, including proprietary case/motion analysis, and tools law firms increasingly need to win new business and work efficiently. We will help our clients make more informed business decisions about the merits of litigation—based on this unique database of legal facts, and proprietary analytic tools.”

The IPLC was developed by the Law, Science & Technology Program within Stanford Law School over the course of three years (2006 to 2009) 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. Similarly, the new venture has been made possible by a series of corporate investors that include leading tech law firms and operating companies. Going forward Stanford University and Stanford Law School will retain a stake in the venture. Stanford Law School will continue to grow the public site with support from Lex Machina staff and from Stanford Law faculty whose research and intellectual capital will continue to add value and help drive ongoing innovation.

“Lex Machina is an example of Stanford Law School’s ability to produce empirical scholarship that has important real-world applications," said Law School Dean Larry Kramer. "It's also a great example of how public service and private enterprise are not mutually exclusive. Public interest initiatives can dovetail with commercially viable ventures.” For example, Stanford Law School 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. “In the same vein,” Kramer said, “Lex Machina was developed in the public interest and is now a commercially viable application that offers a whole new set of tools to help judges, scholars, legislators, and policymakers better understand our IP system and reform IP law and policy, as well as to help lawyers improve client services.

Intellectual property (IP) is a key driver of the American economy, and IP litigation is big business. By one estimate, the nation’s copyright and patent industries alone contributed almost 20 percent of private industry’s share of the U.S. gross domestic product and were responsible for close to 40 percent of all private industry growth. The average patent case costs $5 million in legal fees on each side to litigate. A patent lawsuit can prevent a company from bringing a new product to market, or otherwise stall the kind of innovation that the IP system was meant to spur.

About Mark Lemley

Mark Lemley is the William H. Neukom Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, the Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology, and the Director of Stanford's LLM Program in Law, Science and Technology. He teaches intellectual property, computer and Internet law, patent law, and antitrust. He is the author of seven books (most in multiple editions) and more than 100 articles on these and related subjects, including the two-volume treatise IP and Antitrust. His works have been reprinted throughout the world, and translated into Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian. He has taught intellectual property law to federal and state judges at numerous Federal Judicial Center and ABA programs, has testified seven times before Congress and numerous times before the California legislature, the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Modernization Commission on patent, trade secret, antitrust and constitutional law matters, and has filed numerous amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and the federal circuit courts of appeals. He has been named California Lawyer's Attorney of the Year (2005), Best Lawyers’ San Francisco IP Lawyer of the Year (2010), a Young Global Leader by the Davos World Economic Forum (2007), one of the top 50 litigators in the country under 45 by the American Lawyer (2007), one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the nation by the National Law Journal (2006), one of the top intellectual property lawyers in California (2003, 2007, 2009) and one of the 100 most influential lawyers in California (2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008) by the Daily Journal, among other honors. In 2009 he received the California State Bar’s inaugural IP Vanguard award. In 2002 he was chosen Boalt's Young Alumnus of the Year.

Lemley is a founding partner of Durie Tangri LLP. He litigates and counsels clients in all areas of intellectual property, antitrust, and Internet law. He has argued six Federal appellate cases and numerous district court cases, and represented clients including Comcast, Genentech, Google, Grokster, Hummer Winblad, Impax, Intel, NetFlix, Palm, TiVo, and the University of Colorado Foundation in over sixty cases in nearly two decades as a lawyer.

After graduating from law school, Lemley clerked for Judge Dorothy Nelson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and has practiced law in Silicon Valley with Brown & Bain and with Fish & Richardson and in San Francisco with Keker & Van Nest. Until January 2000, he was the Marrs McLean Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law, and until June 2004 he was the Elizabeth Josslyn Boalt Professor of Law at the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley.

About Joshua Walker

A pioneer in the emerging field of legal informatics, Joshua Walker is a founder of CodeX (Stanford Center for Computers and Law), a multidisciplinary laboratory run by Stanford Law School and Stanford University's School of Engineering, and served as executive director of the IP Litigation Clearinghouse. He currently leads advanced, applied research in law and computer science—efforts to make legal information more accessible to both attorneys and the general public.

Walker has been building legal data collections and databases for over fifteen years. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he collected primary data on criminal and ethnic nationalist groups in Northern Ireland and wartime Bosnia. Later, he was part of a U.S. team sent to Rwanda, prosecuting orchestrators of the 1996 genocide. Through his work coordinating the Office of the Prosecutor's first functional database, Walker helped convict the former Prime Minister of Rwanda—a judicial first—and build cases against other key perpetrators. As a student at the University of Chicago Law School, Walker became a top antitrust scholar and cultivated interdisciplinary research projects with Argonne National Laboratory. Before coming to Stanford, Walker was an intellectual property litigator at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, representing Facebook, Intel, eBay, and other leading technology companies.

About the Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology

The Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology (LST) combines the resources of Stanford Law School—including renowned faculty experts, alumni practicing on the cutting edge of technology law, technologically savvy and enthusiastic students, and a location in the heart of Silicon Valley—to address the many questions arising from the increasingly prominent role that science and technology play in both national and global arenas. The program acts to help legal professionals, businesspeople, government officials, and the public at large to identify those questions and find innovative answers to them. The program seeks to: give every Stanford Law student the opportunity to address these issues through innovative coursework, in preparation for practice at the highest level of law's intersections with science and technology; raise professional understanding and public awareness of technical and ethical challenges; promote informed public policies on science and technology in national and global arenas; and contribute to the international exchange of ideas in the field of Law, Science, and Technology.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, and write books and articles for academic audiences, as well as the popular press. Along with offering traditional law school classes, the school has embraced new subjects and new ways of teaching.

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EDITORIAL CONTACT

Judith Romero
Associate Director of Media Relations
Stanford Law School
judith.romero@stanford.edu
Office: 650 723.2232

COMMENT

Mark Lemley
William H. Neukom Professor of Law and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology
Stanford Law School
mlemley@law.stanford.edu
Office: 650 723.4605

Joshua Walker
CEO & Chief Legal Architect
Lex Machina, Inc.
jwalker@lexmachina.com
Office: 650 390.9500