Performing Citizen Legal Research and Analysis with Docket Alarm

In addition to lawyers and professionals, regular citizens can benefit from having access to Docket Alarm’s legal research platform to uncover litigation history and stay informed of the latest lawsuits and cases. Here are four ways the public can use Docket Alarm to their benefit.
1. Conduct Due Diligence
Citizens can use Docket Alarm to research potential employers or business partners. If you’re thinking about joining a company, check out their litigation history. This might be particularly useful if you are looking to join a smaller company like a startup, where there’s not a lot of public information available. You can check to see if they’ve filed for bankruptcy or if they have been involved in a dispute over technology or intellectual property rights. You can also check to see if the founders or investors have been involved in any litigation. The same applies to conducting due diligence on potential businesses partners or joint venture partners.   

Another way citizens can use Docket Alarm for due diligence is if they are looking to hire an accountant, lawyer, doctor, or other professional. You can view that professional’s litigation history to see if they have been sued for malpractice.

2. Receive Litigation Updates Involving Family and Friends

If family members, friends, or business partners are involved in pending litigation, you can keep tabs on the case using Docket Alarm’s search engine and email alerts tool. You can elect to follow a case and set up email recurring email alerts that arrive to your inbox as frequently as you wish, ensuring you’ll never overlook an important case update or development.

3. Be the First to Know About Celebrity Lawsuits

Search for your favorite celebrities on Docket Alarm to view the full litigation history for a particular individual. Once you have located a celebrity’s history, you can then click the “Track this Search” button to be notified when they have been sued or there is an update or a resolution to a case they are currently involved in.

For example, you can search for “Kanye West” and get email alerts any time the music mogul is involved in a new case. Check out this lawsuit filed against West and his business partner, Damon Dash. The pair just released an indie film called “Loisaidas,” which also happens to be the registered trademark of a Latin musical group. However, Kanye and company have yet to file an answer or appear in court, and as of yesterday, had a default judgment entered against them.

4. Follow Your Favorite Tech Innovators

Apple and Google fan-boys (and girls) can use Docket Alarm to keep tabs on their favorite tech companies. Search for cases and track litigation involving Facebook, SpaceX, Snapchat, Uberand more. Additionally, individuals looking to invest in public companies, like Netflixor Twitter, can benefit from receiving Docket Alarm’s frequent litigation updates. If you are looking to buy shares of a particular company, lawsuits and case outcomes may have a large impact on that company’s stock price, particularly if integral ownership or IP rights are involved.

Sign up today at to stay ahead of the latest legal news.

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Saint Laurent Does Not Find Your Parody Funny

Creating a parody of a well-recognized brand is a popular way to captivate the public, à la the “Dumb Starbucks” phenomenon that took the internet by storm last year and had LA residents lining up around the block for a cup of “dumb coffee.”

But is this type of witty commentary legal? Well, as any lawyer will tell you, it depends.

Parody can be raised as a defense to a trademark or copyright infringement lawsuit. When viewed through the lens of trademark infringement, the central issue that courts will decide is whether there is likelihood of consumer confusion. However, recently courts have taken this interpreted this inquiry in different ways, coming up with several variations on a multi-factor test. Many of these tests include the following factors:

(1)   Strength of the mark;
(2)   Similarity of the marks
(3)   Proximity of the goods;
(4)   The quality of the defendant’s product;
(5)   The likelihood that plaintiff will enter the product market of the alleged infringer under the same mark;
(6)   Evidence of actual confusion;
(7)   Marketing channels used;
(8)   Defendant’s intent;
(9)   Sophistication of the buyers.

Courts have recognized, as either related to these factors or as a separate factor, that parody rarely is infringing, since the goal of parody is commentary, not confusion. See Cardtoons, L.C. v. Major League Baseball Players’ Ass’n, 95 F.3d 959, 967 (10th Cir. 1996).

Parody in High Fashion

On April 16th, 2015, Luxury Goods International (LGI), who owns the trademark rights for famous high fashion brand Saint Laurent, filed suit against a t-shirt manufacturer in the Southern District of New York for trademark infringement, dilution, false designation of origin, and unfair competition. LGI had recently made a decision to drop the “Yves” from their “Saint Laurent” mark, which inspired the defendant Jeanine Hellier and her company to create a shirt that read “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves.” The shirt was carried by popular fashion retailers Kitsune and Colette, and also sold on Hellier’s website.

In an attempt to protect “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves,” LGI claims Hellier had filed trademark application No. 85897120 with the USPTO back in April of 2013. Ultimately, LGI stipulates the mark was never granted protection because it was confusingly similar to LGI’s registered “Yves Saint Laurent” marks.

The case has just begun, and Hellier has not answered LGI’s complaint, but Hellier could potentially raise fair use as a defense, claiming that her shirts are a permissible use of the mark as parody. 


You can view and research cases involving parody on Docket Alarm, and even receive an email alert when a new parody case is filed. For example, if you conduct a terms and connectors search on Docket Alarm such as “parody w/10 (copyright or trademark) and is:opinion”, you can click the “Track this Search” button and automatically receive an update any time a new court opinion issues matching the query. By setting up alerts for your research, you can always be sure you’re receiving the latest relevant information.

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Know Your PTAB Judges: Meet PTAB Judge Trevor Jefferson

 In the News: Docket Alarm is excited to announce that we have been selected as a finalist in Legaltech News’ Innovation Awards for Best Research Product! The award is in recognition of outstanding achievement by legal professionals in their use of technology.

Know Your PTAB Judges: Meet PTAB Judge Trevor Jefferson

In this installment of Docket Alarm’s Know Your PTAB Judge newsletter, Docket Alarm is proud to feature Administrative Patent Judge Trevor Jefferson.

Judge Jefferson is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law. Prior to law school, he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree with honors in electrical engineering from Howard University, and a Master of Science Degree, also in electrical engineering, from the University of Illinois. After obtaining his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he worked as a systems engineer for GE Astro Space and Motorola, Inc.

Following law school, Judge Jefferson served as a law clerk for the Honorable R. Guy Cole, Jr. at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. After his clerkship, he was selected as a Temple Bar Scholar at the American Inns of Court. Additionally, Judge Jefferson has worked in both private practice as an attorney at Latham & Watkins and as a government trial attorney for the US Department of Justice, representing the United States in IP litigation.

PTAB Record

The Honorable Trevor Jefferson was sworn in to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on March 1, 2012. During his tenure on the court, Judge Jefferson has ruled on over 80 petitionsand has issued seven written decisions— canceling all instituted claims in four petitions, canceling some claims in two petitions, and refusing to cancel any instituted claims in one petition.

Notable rulings include Judge Jefferson’s decisions in five related Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings (IPR2015-00261, IPR2015-00262, IPR2013-00419, IPR2013-00424, IPR2013-00412) involving auto giant Toyota Motor Corp, resulting in two final written decisions. In IPR 2013-00424, Judge Jefferson opinedthat Toyota failed to demonstrate that the challenged claims in U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,000 owned by American Vehicular Sciences, LLC (AVS) were unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 103. In another IPR proceeding initiated by Toyota against AVS, IPR 2013-00419, Judge Jefferson ruledthat many claims of U.S. Pat. No. 6,772, 057 challenged by Toyota were unpatentable, but did not cancel several others. 

Researching Judge Jefferson’s Profile

Further insight can be gained by viewing Judge Jefferson’s record on Docket Alarm’s statistics platform. Users can view statistics on how many petitions Judge Jefferson is hearing per month, petitions he has instituted, final written decisions he has issued, the parties and firms that have appeared before him, and much more. For example, based on analysis of his 83 petition grants and denials, Judge Jefferson is, on average, 21% less likely than his colleagues to institute petitions in full or in part. Additionally, he is 26% less likely to invalidate all instituted claims than his fellow administrative patent judges.

Petition Grants and Denials Statistics for Judge Trevor Jefferson

Lawyers representing both petitioners and patent owners can use this information to determine what direction their litigation strategies need to take, such as whether or not to file a petition and what claims to contest if appearing before Judge Jefferson.

Related Links

-                 Search all documents filed in all of Judge Jefferson’s cases at the PTAB.
-                 View Judge Jefferson’s judicial profile, with statistics on petition grant rates, final written decisions, and other data.

Note: All statistics regarding Judge Jefferson were pulled on May 29, 2015 and accordingly may not reflect the most up to date statistics. Docket Alarm subscribers have full access to current statistics on Judge Jefferson and all other PTAB judges.

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Docket Alarm is an advanced search and litigation tracking service for the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB), the International Trade Commission (ITC), Bankruptcy Courts, and Federal Courts across the United States. Docket Alarm searches and tracks millions of dockets and documents for thousands of users.

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