On August 24, I was stunned by a press release announcing that Docket Navigator a U.S. research and analytics platform was being acquired, not by one of the usual U.S. legal tech suspects, but by a U.K. information services platform, Law Business Research, Ltd. (LBR) which has a fairly low profile in the United States. According to the press release “LBR is a global legal information services business providing intelligence platforms, legal analysis tools and networking across multiple legal practice areas. LBR brands IAM, World Trademark Review and Global Competition Review provide unrivalled coverage and in-depth analysis across the IP and antitrust practice areas, offering subscribers insight, intelligence and networking opportunities to support decision making.”
I connected with Docket Navigator CEO Darryl Towell to ask the questions on every subscriber’s mind. “What does this mean for the future of the product? Why did you do it?”
A little context is in order. Docket Navigator was the brainchild of Towell and his sister-in-law, Amy Towell, now the company’s COO. In 2008, the first version of the product called Docket Report was launched with emailed summaries of patent litigation in all federal district courts. The following year they began charging for the service and building a subscriber base. This enabled them to hire software engineers and editors to curate litigation data. In subsequent years, they added coverage of federal trademark, copyright, securities, antitrust, and trade secret litigation.
I first learned about Docket Navigator through colleagues, rather than the usual promotional channels. The buzz from colleagues using Docket Navigator for IP analytics and research was incredibly positive. I was a bit skeptical because I hadn’t encountered the product through the usual promotional channels. And even the name “Docket Navigator” didn’t suggest to me the power and scope of the product.
It is not an exaggeration to say that over the past decade Docket Navigator has grown into a company which is “beloved” by its subscribers. The few legal tech companies that qualify as “beloved” get that reputation based on several factors, including the quality of the product, the reasonableness and transparency of the pricing, the consistency of the customer service support, and the responsiveness of the company’s leadership. Unfortunately, these very qualities are often the first casualties post acquisition. I reached out to Towell to get both insights and reassurances regarding Docket Navigator’s future.
What can Docket Navigator subscribers expect going forward? Towell said, “On a day-to-day basis, not much will change in the foreseeable future. I will continue as CEO and Amy will continue as COO and we don’t expect any staffing changes. When you call or email with a question, the same people will be here to help.” In addition, he noted that no staff will be impacted by the acquisition. Product development will accelerate because LBR has close to 400 employees who can support the Docket Navigator staff of 20. “Customers should be reassured that they will have continuity of customer support.” In addition, Towell expects the development of new Docket Navigator features to accelerate.
Are there any new developments in the pipeline? According to Towell, “The first post-acquisition enhancement will be the release of a new data set covering appealed patent cases in the Federal Circuit, including appeals from U.S. district courts, the PTAB and the ITC. Subscribers will be able to track changes to appealed judgments, damage awards, injunctions, patent determinations, outcomes, claim constructions, and more. In addition, there will be a new ‘Patent Appeals Docket Report’ that provides daily updates on appealed cases and decisions.”
Towell summed up the long-term change this way. “Over time, Docket Navigator will begin to integrate with LBR, bringing operational tools and resources to further enhance the scope and coverage of the Docket Navigator platform. I am proud of what the Docket Navigator team has accomplished these past 14 years. But I am equally excited to join the LBR team and look forward to working with our new colleagues!”
The Transformation Of News With Analytics
The LBR/Docket Navigator combination is yet another example of a growing trend: the merger of analytics and business reporting. Fastcase, ALM, Law360, and LexisNexis have all released products in the past two years which are focused on leveraging analytics to enhance the increasing competitive legal news marketplace. News organizations are no longer competing to be “the first” to break news but are increasingly focused on delivering unique and high-quality insights alchemized from the mundane dross of docket data and court filings.
This article was originally posted on Above the Law on Sept. 16, 2021 with a different title.