Stanford Law School has launched the Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse, a searchable online database of intellectual property cases filed since 2000.

The database contains more than 78,000 U.S. lawsuits, including, patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and antitrust cases. The clearinghouse is activating public access in phases, and the 23,000 cases in the patent litigation module became accessible on Dec. 8.

The goal was to create something on the scale of Stanford Law School’s Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, which tracks federal class action securities fraud litigation and regularly issues reports, said Professor Mark A. Lemley, who is the intellectual property clearinghouse’s faculty director and director of the school’s Law, Science & Technology program. “Intellectual property and patent issues have been very much in the minds of policy makers and courts of late, [but] we don’t have a good source of data for a lot of things in dispute,” Lemley said.

The goal of the intellectual property clearinghouse creators is developing a neutral forum for Congress, the courts, individual litigators and academics to gather information that informs public debate, Lemley said. There’s been a “massive need for a long time for better statistical data” about intellectual property litigation, said Joshua Walker, executive director of the clearinghouse.

“It’s like a lamp in a dark room,” Walker said. “It’s not going to tell you where to go, but it’s going to help you avoid tripping over the coffee table.”

Lemley said users can search for cases by patent number, industry and company name and also track cases handled by particular lawyers and judges. The database will also contain full text of key documents, like complaints, answers, court orders and jury instructions, Lemley said.

Intellectual property clearinghouse sponsors include Cornerstone Research, which also sponsors the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Corporate sponsors include Cisco Systems Inc., Genentech Inc., Intel Corp., Oracle, Qualcomm Inc. and SAP America Inc. Three law firms are also sponsors: Fenwick & West of Mountainview, Calif.; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; and Chicago’s Winston & Strawn.