Transparency Labs and its guidance on how to make contracts more understandable

For years there has been a plain English movement that has sought to simplify and clarify government documents and commercial agreements. A further development may be Transparency Labs. Its goal is to help consumers understand so-called “fine print” in contracts.

“Our team of experts starts by spending hundreds of hours analyzing individual fine print documents and labeling their constituent contract terms. These are the “genes” that make up the fine print. We map these genes along vectors, which enable us to compare one fine print agreement to another. Using this data, we can also create benchmarks to measure relative concepts like language complexity and consumer friendliness.”

That paragraph, dense with provocative concepts like genes, vectors and benchmarks, suggests all manner of analysis that could be possible for contracts worked on by legal departments. Further, Transparency Labs applies ideas from information architecture and visualization to make contracts clearer. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see a patent licensing agreement analyzed with these tools against counterpart agreements and then its key provisions displayed graphically?

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