Cease and Desist Letter Automation

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Introduction:

On Friday, April 20th LegalRnD will host the “Measuring Lawyer Quality and Setting an Empirical Research Agenda for Legal Technology and Innovation” Conference from 9 am to 12 pm at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Students from Dan Linna Jr.’s Litigation: Data, Theory, Practice, Process Course will present on legal technology tools that have been developed to address real-world problems provided by project partners. Students were taught the Kata method to help identify potential solutions for the legal problems that they were provided.

Students were also trained in both Think Smart and Neota Logic artificial intelligence platforms, so that these solutions could be built for the project partner.  My group consisted of Erica PorterKaitlyn Huber and myself. We were given the following problem by Jeffrey Sharer of the Akerman Law Firm .

Industry
Law and Intellectual Property

Primary Business
Protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Intellectual Property involves intangible assets and creative works. It secures and enforces legal rights to inventions, designs, and artistic works.

The Challenge

Intellectual property rights are one of the most valuable assets of a corporation. In fact, it may be the most important asset the corporation possesses and therefore should be protected. In a recent survey, C-Level executives were asked whether they considered trademark infringement as something that they monitor in the company. Over 80% of these executives state that trademark infringements have become a growing issue for corporations over the past 5 years.

There are a number of ways in which a trademark infringement can damage a company’s brand, resulting in loss of sales. One of the growing concerns for C-Level executives is the negative publicity that a brand may sustain on social media. This makes the response of a corporation and its legal team time sensitive. Traditionally, it takes an in-house lawyer or outside IP counsel approximately 2 to 4 hours to assess a potentially infringing mark and draft and appropriate cease and desist letter or other correspondence to the alleged infringer. For many large organizations, this can add up to hundreds or even thousands of hours per year. One Deputy General Counsel responsible for IP at a Fortune 100 company suggested that this process could be at least partially automated to allow for responses to be generated more quickly

The Solution

Law firms like Akerman, which build smart systems, are uniquely positioned to respond to this issue. Attorney Jeffrey Sharer and Professor Dan Linna Jr. decided to have a group in Dan’s Litigation Class develop a solution using Think Smart or Neota Logic to streamline the researching and drafting of a cease and desist letter. My group decided to use the Neota Logic artificial intelligence software platform to help clients determine their rights under Trademark law. The Neota Logic platform employs process management, document automation, and reasoning to build an intelligent application for addressing complex legal issues.A client using the system can draft a cease and desist letter in 15 to 20 minutes rather than the traditional 2 to 4 hours. This allows for the client’s IP counsel to address other issues for the corporation, rather than spending valuable time on the cease and desist process.

How it Works: Programming Neota with Actions, Variables, Question Flows, and Decision Trees:

When determining the best app to develop for clients, we discussed developing an app that would allow the client’s IP counsel to generate an automated cease and desist PDF, but decided that our app would be of better use if it empowered anyone on the legal team to determine the companies’ rights under Trademark law and drafts the cease and desist letter for them. The software’s functioning is similar to TurboTax in that regard, where you can file taxes without having to be a CPA. With seamless integration, Neota Logic opens the web interface of the Advisor where the user selects the appropriate template for the document type.

The Advisor starts automatically, prompting the user for a case number or other identifying information. The Advisor provides a link to the USPTO if the IP counsel needs to retrieve related data about the company’s trademark and prompts the user to fill in the remaining information required for the document type.

The Advisor generates the document using the template, merging the data obtained in the questionnaire, and from common content, and applying trademark rules as required.
The solution then routes the generated document automatically to the clients’ email.

The Draft Letter:

Results and achievements of this project:

  1. With automated document templates, the time spent by the legal department on drafting cease and desist letters is reduced by more than 80%!
  2. Automated templates significantly reduce mistakes in documents.

User Input

We strived to make the best app possible, so we wanted to make sure that we were able to incorporate input from those in the field and those in general practice. We wanted to make sure that our app has the content that a trademark attorney would need to feel empowered to continue using it, but we also wanted Akerman to be able to provide it to in-house counsel who does not work on trademarks as often. Jordan Galvin was incredible, as she was willing to go through our app and provide comments to help us make our app amazing. By incorporating user input, we were able to draft the questions so that all audiences could follow through and submit information for the letter. Martin Childs, a 2L working for a Chicago firm, stated that he wished he had taken this class because he felt that developing these tools directly address clients’ pain points. Professor Bean said he was impressed with our app and felt that it was very useful. Professor Carter Johnson, who worked in IP at a firm and now teaches IP at MSU, stated that our app was very interesting and a great start to an awesome idea.

What We Learned:
In creating this automated artificial intelligence software platform, we learned that you cannot simply throw technology at an issue. We opened the course by learning to implement the Kata method, which forced us not to jump to a conclusion but rather to employ the scientific method. We were forced to test our theories to determine if they were accurate. We employed process improvement and process mapping to eliminate waste, by using the data-driven approach to develop our system.

This innovative system was created through teamwork with my classmates and with our project partner, Jeffrey Sharer. We learned that in this era of Artificial Intelligence, the legal field could be significantly improved through the automation of data, leading to more efficient service delivery and improved client satisfaction.

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