November 3, 2010
The single most frequent question we get about patent research is how to determine if an individual patent has been involved in litigation. While you might search for the patent number in the dockets database (DOCK-FED-ALL), this search only pulls those dockets in which the actual title of a docket entry includes the patent number—something that rarely occurs. Also, a search in the filings database (FED-FILING-ALL) allows for full-text searching; but the database is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage of all federal filings.
So, how do you determine whether you patent has been litigated? Answer: KeyCite the patent. KeyCite’s Full History includes data from the Patent Docket Summaries and Derwent LitAlert databases.
You might also search these databases independently:
Patent Docket Summaries (PAT-DOCK-SUM) pulls dockets by patent number. The database includes a template that allows you to enter the patent number. Running a search will delivers docket summaries that involve that patent. It will also provide a link to the full docket on Westlaw. Coverage begins 2003.
Another resource is the LitAlerts from Derwent (LITALERT). This database allows you to search by docket number and pull index information about any suits that have been filed involving your patent. Coverage for Derwent LitAlerts is extensive, beginning 1973.
Availability of these databases gives researches some interesting flexibility. For example, how often have business method patents have been litigated since 2003? To find out, enter 705 in the template for results. Generally, however, the easiest way to determine whether a specific patent has been litigated is simply to KeyCite the patent.