New Capabilities Help Deliver on President Obama’s Executive Actions to Assist Recipients of Patent Infringement Demand Letters

whitehouse300Today is an exciting day for Lex Machina, as we announce our efforts to support the American innovation community through a new initiative to provide free, public information to businesses and everyday consumers who may receive patent infringement demand letters. This new initiative, part of a US Patent Office toolkit announced today, will enable recipients to make more informed decisions about how to respond to these demand letters.

On June 4, 2013, President Obama announced a set of executive actions and legislative recommendations to improve incentives for future innovation in high tech patents, including (emphasis added):

“Empowering Downstream Users.  Patent trolls are increasingly targeting Main Street retailers, consumers and other end-users of products containing patented technology — for instance, for using point-of-sale software or a particular business method. End-users should not be subject to lawsuits for simply using a product as intended, and need an easier way to know their rights before entering into costly litigation or settlement.  The PTO will publish new education and outreach materials, including an accessible, plain-English web site offering answers to common questions by those facing demands from a possible troll.”

Patent owners send demand letters to inform companies about alleged patent infringement. They usually call for payment of a license fee and threaten litigation if the recipient does not agree to pay. Sometimes these letters assert a weak infringement claim that likely wouldn’t hold up in court.  The sender assumes that the recipient — especially small businesses that are downstream users of a product or method — will just pay the fee to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation.

These letters also leave many recipients unsure about how best to react because they don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the validity of a claim.

This simple and easy access to our robust data will help recipients better evaluate their options when they receive a demand letter, as well as help ensure that the patent system as a whole operates more efficiently and drives real value for the U.S. economy.

Innovators at Stanford’s Computer Science Department and Law School developed Lex Machina’s Legal Analytics® platform to provide more openness and transparency in intellectual property law. We continue to fulfill that original mission via our public interest user program, which provides free access to our platform to hundreds of Federal judges and their clerks, members of Congress and their staff, and academics and students engaged in the study of IP law and policy.