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Plethora of patents that pertain to legal department management

Intrigued by the handful of patents or patent applications pertinent to general counsel that have come to light, I foraged on Free Patents Online. I searched in abstracts of a US database for the term “legal.” That term came up with 142,231 “matches,” which were ranked by some mysterious score that started at 1,000 and went down.

Wading in, I plucked out 16 from among the first 50 that each appear from the abstract to have some relevance to law department managers. Fourteen are applications for patents, which I cover in a later post (See my post of Jan. 23, 2009: some intriguing US patent applications.). Two of them are granted patents: one for a computer-based RFP system and the other for a web-based Legal Management System, which I believe GE may have patented (See my post of Dec. 23, 2008: GE’s web-based Legal Management System.).

Other patents of interest to law departments have appeared on this blog (See my post of Dec. 11, 2007: law departments with software to license and patents; Dec. 23, 2008: Chevron Texaco’s patent application; Jan. 25, 2006: American Express’ patent on law department method; Feb. 8, 2006: FMC patented process; and Jan. 23, 2008: strategic planning and analysis.).

Method and apparatus for facilitating the selection of legal and legal-related service providers – US Patent 7,158,944 (“The present invention is a method and apparatus for facilitating the selection of legal and legal-related service providers. When characterized as an apparatus, the invention has a host site computer, a listing client computer in communication with the host site computer, and a network subscriber computer in communication with the host site computer. Initially, a request for proposal is created using the listing client computer. This request for proposal includes criteria for determining whether a network subscriber can view the request for proposal. After being created, the request for proposal is transmitted to the host site computer. Next, a profile is created using the network subscriber computer. The profile includes characteristics of the network subscriber. After being created, the profile is transmitted to the host site computer. Finally, the host site computer compares the request for proposal and the profile to determine if the network subscriber will have access to the request for proposal.

Web-based system and method for managing legal information — US Patent 6,839,707 (“The disclosed invention, a Legal Management System (LMS), is a fully integrated web-based interactive database to automate the management process for storing, disseminating and searching information in real time. The invention is a method using a web-based system including a server system coupled to a centralized interactive database and at least one client system. The method involves receiving information from a client system, storing the information into a centralized database, updating the centralized database periodically to maintain the information, and providing the up-to-date information in response to an inquiry.”).

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