I fell down the eDiscovery patent rabbit hole while researching Exterro’s recent press release on the patent granted on their Gateway Coordinator. You should never take press releases, white papers, blogs, etc. at face value. Go to the source when possible. In my USPTO search for the announced patent, I stumbled across 7 more Exterro patents covering workflow management, custodian monitoring and predictive search. Every mature technology company should protect their IP investments with patents. For example, kCura has at least six patents* covering software agent deployment, search, etc. Writing and reading patents and applications is an art form. I have supported a couple applications and consulted on patent classification systems, yet I still see red flags reading abstracts like:
“Methods and systems are disclosed for reducing bandwidth and storage demands during document search and aggregation. A method for accomplishing these objects may comprise deduplicating files on a local content repository, deNISTing files on the local content repository; and sending the deduplicated and deNISTed files to a cloud facility for storage. Documents stored in the cloud facility may be deduplicated again, assigned one or more flags, and managed according to active matters.”
Maybe I worked on too many archiving and back up systems in my Symantec days, but I can think of a dozen products that use this same general methodology to synchronize local-cloud document stores. Why should customers care about patents? In the end, customers need confidence in the stability and health of their chosen technology providers. Migrations of eDiscovery matters/platforms are messy and expensive. Patents arm providers against both copycat competitors and accusations of IP theft. They are a key asset in acquisitions or private investment evaluations. Most customers do not have the time to deep dive every potential provider or read new patent announcements. This kind of perspective should be available from global market research players like Gartner/Forrester. In my experience, market reports rarely get this deep in the IP weeds. So add a patent check to your RFP finalist checklist to better differentiate providers before you sign your eDiscovery life away.
If I ever have the bandwidth for a fun project, I will try to persuade my old mentor Skip Walters to help me build an eDiscovery patent analysis tool. It is right up his alley.
*Update: Relativity has another 8 patents filed since the name change.
Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.
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