The founders of Lithosphere Software include:
Our original vision was to protect individuals and companies against overly broad patents. Patent rights, like all other forms of property rights, should be respected. If, however, patent rights extend beyond their proper boundaries, those rights can and should be challenged. As you read more about us, think about how the patent system as a whole would be improved if everyone could better understand patents, and the scope of protection afforded by those patents.
We acknowledge that our initial focus was fairly narrow. We were concerned only with challenging patent rights. As we continue this discussion and our evolution, we will improve the dialogue by exploring ideas that provide for greater insight when evaluating patent rights.
We originally emphasized, correctly, that the statute that grants patent rights also provides mechanisms to challenge those rights. In general terms, you can challenge a patent by showing that claims in the patent lack novelty or would have been obvious in view of prior art (published patents, printed publications, prior sales, offers for sale, etc.). To make these challenges, you need to organize information about earlier technologies to form arguments. In patent-speak, these arguments are called patent contentions.
We started from a basic premise that any interested person should have the opportunity to challenge overly broad patents. In other words, there needs to be a better way to formulate and organize these "arguments" or patent contentions. The typical approach has been to write down contentions into Microsoft Word files and circulate them as PDFs. Rules even exist to explain that contentions need to be organized in a "chart" format. This is a time-intensive task that provides a static view of information. It is also difficult for more than one person at a time to contribute information into a claim chart for the challenged claims.
We believe that information, including contentions, is more effective when it can be organized and accessible in a dynamic environment. Contentions that exist in just Microsoft Word files and PDFs are too limiting. To really understand information, it needs to be viewed, manipulated and transformed into different contexts and perspectives. Relationships among the pieces of information from different sources can then emerge to tell an effective story.
Consider that a person's daily-used calendar and address book organize and can share information dynamically, allowing updates to address book entries and calendar invites. The entire environment is interactive and fluid. Would you be satisfied if your calendar entries or contact information existed only in a Microsoft Word document? We believe that information should be organized in a way that allows any person to retrieve, study and utilize the information. Simply "word processing" the information is not good enough.
Our story begins with ideas that we formed from litigating patent cases. We spent 6+ years defending companies against the Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing patent portfolio. In the beginning, we were tasked with organizing hundreds of prior art references and analyzing several hundred asserted claims spanning 20+ patents. We turned to a database approach. We configured a Microsoft Access database to organize the contention information.
This process worked well on the Katz cases ( In re Katz MDL Federal Circuit decision), so we made some more changes to this process so that it could be applied to other cases. As use of the system expanded, we sought deeper control over how to collect and organize information for our cases. We understood that we needed to move beyond MS Access.
Before designing a new system, we defined our litigation workflow into discrete steps and mapped the workflow process to a database environment. In 2007, after deciding on a set of objectives, we understood how to define the workflow necessary for this project.
We later decided to form a company, Lithosphere Software, to further develop software that allows patent lawyers to be patent lawyers. This pursuit is at the core of our beliefs that an attorney should be continually analyzing each case, focused on the merits, not populating changes to charts, and that evaluating a case requires considering evidence in different ways.
We considered how software can foster these ideals. For example, instead of wasting time formatting charts, making redundant changes to shifting evidence, and trying to determine the best prior art references for a claim, we wanted to create software to better manage those tasks. The ideas that emerged were straightforward - eliminate wasteful efforts when making non-substantive changes to charts, and provide an interface that shows the analysis from multiple perspectives. PatDek, in its current form, is the first step in achieving our goals.
If you have any specific comments or questions, send us your feedback.
For the inquisitive, "lithosphere" represents the rigid outermost shell of a rocky planet. As to planet Earth, it represents the crust and upper mantle of the Earth's surface that is elastic when viewed on a scale of thousands of years or more. We envision Lithosphere in the same way -- a strong technology shell to protect the underlying layers of a company's patent-related interests.