The Impact of Remote Depositions on Intellectual Property Litigation

Intellectual property litigation is a legal practice area with a large geographic footprint. In every corner of the country, you can find businesses, artists, writers, producers, researchers, and inventors who have IP interests to protect. And disputes over patents, trademarks, and copyrights commonly involve parties based hundreds or thousands of miles away from one another and their respective attorneys. 

Because of this broad geographical reach, remote depositions stand to have a significant impact on IP litigation. Thanks to innovations supercharged by the pandemic, court reporters today offer services that make remote depositions efficient and effective — advances that may permanently change the way IP litigators manage their costs and conduct long-distance discovery. 

A Practice Area Primed for Remote Depositions

Intellectual property disputes frequently have a national scope. It’s the nature of IP law, which is rooted in federal statutes that protect IP holders’ rights on a nationwide scale. Patent or copyright infringement actions rarely depend on the geographic location of the parties (except, perhaps, when one of them is overseas). And, although they can be location-focused, trademark disputes routinely have a wide geographic reach when opposing parties do business in overlapping or national markets. 

Parties to IP litigation, in other words, are as likely to live or do business on opposite sides of the country as they are to be located down the street from one another. And it’s pretty common for IP lawyers to work a fair distance from their clients, too. Washington, D.C., for example, boasts a sizeable bar of intellectual property lawyers who represent a nationwide roster of clients in proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Historically, intellectual property litigators have routinely had to spend time and money traveling long distances to take or defend depositions. And though IP lawyers may take pride in being seasoned road warriors,  their peregrinations aren’t necessarily a good thing for their clients. Taking red-eye flights, crossing time zones, and living out of a suitcase can take a toll on an attorney’s acuity and work product. In other words, lawyer travel has both tangible and intangible costs for clients, some of which can be significant. 

Related: The Advantages of Remote Depositions

All of this makes taking depositions remotely a natural fit for intellectual property lawyers. Remote depositions hold the potential to slash, if not eliminate, a major cost center in IP litigation. Done right, they can be just as effective as in-person witness examination, without any of the potential downsides that come from attorneys hopscotching the country to take discovery. 

An Overnight Transformation in Litigation Practice

Remote depositions have long been an option for IP lawyers, albeit not always the most attractive one. For as long as conference calling has been around, litigators could depose someone by phone. And since the early aughts,  video conferencing—of the TV-mounted-camera-at-the-end-of-a-long-conference-table variety—has been affordable and in widespread use. But despite their availability, neither of these solutions ever amounted to a workable facsimile of taking testimony in person. 

In the mid-to-late 2010s, online video meeting services began to offer a more convenient and flexible means of deposing witnesses remotely. Growth was slow but steady—that is, until the pandemic changed everything.

Overnight, IP lawyers had no choice but to conduct depositions remotely. And to do so they mostly turned to online video conferencing platforms like Zoom. By and large, their experience taking depositions that way mirrored that of every other industry that relied on video platforms to do business. Which is to say, it was kind of a mess. IP lawyers, like everyone else, struggled with laggy video, disappearing audio, unexpected disruptions, and the countless other pitfalls of trying to shoehorn analog office practices into a digital medium. 

Related: Remote Depositions in a Post-Covid World

Even when functioning smoothly,  standard online video conference platforms proved somewhat ill-suited to the task of taking and defending depositions. Aside from facilitating video and audio connections, they provided little else in the way of tools litigators needed to replicate the experience of taking testimony in person. Lawyers found they needed to mix and match service providers and agree on elaborate best practices with opposing counsel to accomplish anything close to what they could do in a live deposition.

For a while, this was the Hobson’s choice IP lawyers faced whenever they needed to take a deposition: cobble together a remote solution using an online meeting platform like Zoom, or don’t take the deposition at all. 

And although standard video conference tools empowered IP litigators to take depositions during a time when they could not realistically travel to a deposition or meet with witnesses in person, they failed to deliver much (if anything) in the way of cost savings for clients. Whatever lawyers saved in travel-related expenses, they more than made up for in time spent ironing out the myriad technical and practical complications that came with using remote meeting tools that weren’t up to the job.  

Remote Deposition Solutions to Fit IP Litigators’ Needs

But fortunately, change was afoot for the better. The unsuitability of generic online video conferencing tools for taking remote depositions prompted enterprising court reporting services to innovate. Soon, they rolled out purpose-built remote deposition software and services designed specifically with the needs of litigators in mind. Today, their single-source remote deposition platforms and services offer IP lawyers deposition-specific features and tools like: 

  • Integrated scheduling of court reporters who have the experience, technological prowess, and licensure to swear witnesses and transcribe remote depositions nationwide; 
  • An all-in-one platform for all participants to use for audio, video, and text feeds and for accessing and reviewing exhibits
  • The ability to upload and mark exhibits in advance of a deposition without sharing them with opposing counsel or the witness
  • The ability to upload and share exhibits in real time during a deposition
  • Virtual break-out rooms for counsel and their clients to use for confidential communications
  • Real-time voice-to-text transcription powered by AI
  • High-quality video capture suitable for courtroom use, and that can be synced with transcript text
  • Delivery of draft transcripts to counsel within 30 minutes of the end of a deposition
  • Prompt delivery of official transcripts in jurisdictionally compliant hard-copy and digital formats

These are game-changing innovations. IP litigators, long the target demographic for the growth of remote depositions, finally have access to a suite of tools and services that make it possible to take quality testimony without being in the same room as their witness. Those who embrace single-source remote deposition platforms can save themselves and their clients the expense and lost productivity that has long been the regrettable byproduct of traveling to depose a witness. And that, in turn, makes their legal services more effective and affordable for clients with intellectual property claims to prosecute or defend. 

Remote Legal is an industry leader in offering remote deposition services via a purpose-built online platform. To learn about how our single-source solution for taking remote depositions can save costs and boost efficiency in your IP litigation practice, contact us today for a free product demo. 

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