A new tool being released today for patent lawyers and paralegals uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to help prepare responses to office actions and then uses analytics to help predict how the case is likely to develop.

The new tool, called SmartShell, has been developed by TurboPatent, a Seattle, Wash., company that specializes in developing technologies to automate and streamline patent drafting, prosecution and quality evaluation.

SmartShell automates the creation of shells — documents typically prepared by paralegals that outline the issues requiring response after receiving an office action from a patent examiner. The attorney then goes into the shell to fill out the technical and legal arguments.

Manually creating a shell typically takes a paralegal from 30 minutes to two hours, TurboPatent says.

Using SmartShell, the paralegal or lawyer simply enters the application number and the product uses patent-specific OCR (optical character recognition) and AI technology to create a Word document containing:

  • Bibliographic data as header.
  • Issues identified by statute, claims affected, and citations.
  • Claims with rolled over status indicators and “cleaned” markup.

James Billmaier, TurboPatent’s CEO, told me yesterday that the company’s testing found that paralegals using SmartShell were able to create patent shells five times faster than with traditional manual-entry methods. Depending on the number of office actions a firm handles, that could be a sizeable savings over time.

In addition to the shell, SmartShell also provides an Office Action Report. This is a statistical analysis of the examiner, art unit, and classification, with direct links to the referenced art. Attorneys can use this to inform their response strategy and to provide data-backed advice to their clients, the company says.

Users also get:

  • A client letter with a summary of the action, making it easy for attorneys to keep their clients informed.
  • An OCR-converted version of the Office Action itself, allowing for easy copy-and-paste functionality.
  • An OCR-converted previous claim set, as applicable.

SmartShell will be sold to law firms on a subscription basis. The price of the subscription will vary with the firm’s estimated frequency of use. Billmaier told me that the subscriptions work out roughly to $9.99 per use, so a firm that averages 10 of these a month would pay $100 a month, with regard to how many times it actually uses the system.

The company is currently offering a seven-day free trial. It also provides a PDF version of a sample SmartShell package.

The video below provides an overview of SmartShell.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.