My troll sense of humor: a patent by a law department for outside counsel management

Shortly after finding a patent application by the Legal Group of General Electric (See my post of Dec. 23, 2008: web-based Legal Management System.), I found another application, this one filed on March 21, 2005 on behalf of the law department of Chevron Texaco (Charles James, the general counsel, is one of the named inventors along with Mark Cervenka, a senior counsel). This application, No. US 2006/0212303, appeared on Sept. 21, 2006. It covers, expansively, “a method for corporate litigation risk management for managing claims and legal actions.”

What I noticed as I read the eight-page application and reviewed the five pages of figures is that it makes much of time frames: form a team within three days of notice of a claim; preserve documents within 10 days of notice; evaluate the claim within 90 days; etc. The method sought to be patented involves categorizing claims into categories from 1 to 4 where 1 is a minor claim and 4 is a major claim. The method also includes “Infinite Learning,” a charming term for knowledge management.
(See my post of Dec. 11, 2007: law departments with software to license and patents)

Will some patent attorney explain to me how this patent, if granted, would not trigger all manner of unknowing infringements by law departments that have devised their own litigation management systems? My same question applies to other law department patents (See my post of Jan. 25, 2006: American Express patent on law department method; and Feb. 8, 2006: FMC patented process.). Or is this speculation my own troll sense of humor?

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