Information about 23,000 US patent suits filed in U.S. district courts since 2000 are online and available free for analysis. This treasure trove of data was made possible by Stanford Law School’s Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse. As stated on the website, “The database includes real-time data summaries, industry indices, and trend analysis together with a full-text search engine, providing detailed and timely information that cannot be found elsewhere in the public domain.”
Data of such enormity ought to yield to wonderful findings from data mining, statistical analysis, data visualization, and benchmarking. It should be a shining example of the power of shared data for the collective good and also how information on the Web goes to the price of zero.
One other observation goes to costs. The database covers an average of 2,875 patent suits filed per year. What is the cost of all that litigation? Others have estimated the average cost of a patent lawsuit at something like $2 million (See my post of July 21, 2006: updated costs; and June 11, 2007: more data on patent litigation costs.). If the pace of filings and average costs are correct, spending on patent litigation would reach $5.7 billion per year! That sounds too high to me.