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Stanford Law School Releases First Phase Of IP Litigation Clearinghouse Search Tool

Publication Date: 
December 23, 2008
Source: 
Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal
Author: 
Tony Dutra

Professor Mark A. Lemley and Executive Director of the IPLC Joshua Walker are quoted in BNA's Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal in a story on the recent release of the new Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse:

Mark Lemley, professor at Stanford University Law School and credited with spearheading the development of the IPLC, said in the press statement that the IPLC “allows judges to define what patent terms mean based on past cases and interpretations and to rely on data to inform settlement negotiations.”

Lemley said that he anticipate uses of the database by a much broader community, however:

We built this tool in part so that lawyers and judges could get more certainty. But … 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 statement noted that Lemley and Christopher Cotropia, a law professor at the University of Richmond, have already used the IPLC to “debunk[] the notion that a high number of patent cases brought by plaintiffs involve copying or theft. … In fact, the percent of these cases involving copying is quite small—only 2 to 3 percent.”

“I believe that the laws and policies we create should address truly widespread, substantial problems ascertained from hard data, rather than those we collectively imagine are happening based on a few anecdotes,” Lemley said.

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The IPLC was developed by the Law, Science & Technology Program at Stanford, with funding and other support from Cisco Systems Inc., Genentech Inc., Intel Corp., Oracle Corp., Qualcomm Inc., and SAP; as well as from law firms and legal consulting firms including Fenwick & West, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and Winston & Strawn, Cornerstone Research, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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The news release also anticipates that “IPLC affiliated scholars at Stanford Law School will be issuing successive reports on various topics, including trends in patent litigation, settlements, and case outcomes.”

“We are developing a core element of the U.S. intellectual property infrastructure,” according to Joshua Walker, who directed the IPLC's creation and is listed as executive director. “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.

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The law school's description of the IPLC is available at /program/centers/iplc/.

The IPLC Web site is at http://lexmachina.stanford.edu/.