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Stanford Project Offers Wide View Of IP Litigation

Publication Date: 
December 08, 2008
Daily Journal
Craig Anderson

Professor Mark A. Lemley and Joshua Walker, director of the Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse, are quoted in the Daily Journal in a story about the Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse:

Stanford Law School will unveil a first-of-its-kind online database today that tracks every patent lawsuit filed in the United States since 2000 and gives academic researchers and attorneys unprecedented access to information about litigation.

Mark Lemley, who spearheaded the creation of the Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse, said he hopes the database provides "systematic information" that can assist attorneys in handling pending cases and policymakers in deciding how to change patent laws.


Lemley, a Stanford law professor, aims to take much of the mystery out of the process.

He wants academics, attorneys and journalists to be able to research how individual judges have handled past patent trials, determine the impact of U.S. Supreme Court rulings in high-profile patent cases, and find out how many cases really are filed by patent holding companies.

"From my personal perspective, it's a fabulous tool to have around," Lemley said. "I have three ideas for [academic] papers already."

The clearinghouse is being sponsored by a host of corporations and law firms that hope to gather comprehensive data about every patent, trademark and copyright lawsuit filed in the country. Patent litigation, because it is all done in federal court, is the easiest to track, and clearinghouse executive director Joshua Walker says it has all 28,000 cases filed in the nation since 2000 in its database.

There are more than 50,000 other cases - including trademark, copyright, antitrust and trade secrets theft claims - in the database, officials said. He said the clearinghouse includes all known intellectual property cases filed this decade, but that some claims may not be included because they are "hidden" in state claims or labeled as breach of contract cases.

Walker said the project is Stanford Law School's largest research project, and that it has taken three years and millions of dollars to assemble and purchase all of the data.


The sponsors include corporations that have strong views about patent litigation, for example, but Lemley is unconcerned that the clearinghouse's data will somehow be suspect because Cisco Systems, a leading supporter of stalled patent reform efforts, is a sponsor.

"The data is what the data is," Lemley said.

At its debut, Lemley said he plans to present some initial statistical information. He assumes that some people on both sides of the patent debate will be unhappy about some of the studies based on the clearinghouse's information.


Walker said the database will be free to everyone for now, but that the clearinghouse will have to figure out a way in the future to defray its costs, possibly by charging commercial users.