On February 20, the White House issued another set of executive actions related to patent reform. These act as an extension to similar actions set forward in June of 2013, which focused on patent assertion entities (PAEs), sometimes known as patent trolls. The new actions focus on a number of initiatives, including strengthening patents, expanding study and enforcement, and protecting small businesses by increasing transparency.
That’s where Lex Machina comes in. Lex Machina is a tool that uses Big Data and analytics to help intellectual property professionals get a clear and accurate sense of the IP litigation landscape. IP attorneys and businesses have used the tool to help plan their strategies, and the American Intellectual Property Association has tapped Lex Machina for legal analytics as well.
Now, the company has announced that its technology will be used to complement the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) new online toolkit, which provides free, public information about demand letters to businesses and consumers.
Experts, ranging from general counsel to state attorneys general, identify demand letters as one of the biggest problems in the patent litigation space today. Some PAEs, colloquially known as “patent trolls” send hundreds or thousands of letters, often to small businesses like coffee shops and credit unions.
Lex Machina will enable the USPTO to “empower downstream users,” which is another of the tenants set forth by the White House. The new toolkit will allow recipients of demand letters to upload the demand letters, creating a robust database of letters that will help small businesses see connections between letters, and shedding light on the strategies used by these patent trolls. Access to hard data will empower these small businesses to understand their options and make the right choices in these difficult situations.
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