For anyone who understands patent law, Drew Winship says the concept of what Juristat does is pretty simple to understand. For everyone else, he has a sports analogy.
“At its core, we’re Moneyball for patent lawyers,” he said, referring to the statistical analysis made famous by baseball and the book and movie of the same name.
Juristat assesses information gleaned from U.S. patent-case records to provide patent-seekers with information that helps to predict and improve their chances for success. Using data analytics, Juristat aims to inform choices on everything from the wording to use in a patent, to the attorneys to hire to the odds of success with an individual patent examiner within the U.S. Patent Office.
Turning to another sports analogy, Winship said Juristat is creating a baseball card for all of the players in the patent system.
“We deal with the theory that the people matter more than the law, and so far we’ve been proven right,” Winship said.
Patents have been granted faster, more often and with less expense for Juristat clients than for those who don’t use the system, he said.
Winship was an attorney at Brown & James when he began to develop Juristat. Although he wasn’t looking to give up his law license or stop practicing law, he said he found himself growing frustrated with big-firm politics.
In early 2012 a friend invited Winship to attend Startup Weekend, an event held Jan. 27-29 in St. Louis that brought together business people and developers. At the event, Winship met “two random strangers” — engineer Bob Ward and analyst Jordan Woerndle.
Woerndle and Ward were working on a “big-data project,” and they were in need of a big data set. Winship said he introduced them to Case.net, “and their eyes lit up.”
And “magically,” during a 50-hour weekend, the three strangers eschewed sleep to write the first version of Juristat and present it to the startup event’s judging panel. They won, even though two of the four judges — both attorneys from Polsinelli —voted for Juristat to take second place because they didn’t believe it was possible for its algorithm to work, Winship said.
“And they said, ‘If this is real, lawyers are eventually out of business,’” Winship recalled. Polsinelli now is a client of Juristat.
Two weeks after Startup Weekend, Juristat was incorporated. About a year later, it became Winship’s full-time job.
In an industry largely built on precedent, Winship said there was some initial difficulty getting attorneys to adopt the new technology. But now, six years later, Juristat has added one-third of the country’s largest patent firms to its client roster. Other notable Juristat users include 3M, Kyocera, Lewis Rice and Panasonic.
Although his success has come relatively quickly, Winship said he isn’t content to just sit and wait for the next fly ball to be popped to him. In addition to maintaining Juristat’s current algorithm, Winship hopes to expand it internationally. He also is looking to develop workflow automation that will ultimately make it more profitable to be a patent attorney.
Reflecting on his journey with Juristat to date, Winship said he also supports the development of more legal tech companies.
“I wish more lawyers would quit their jobs and start startups,” he said.