Enterprise search product finds litigation documents


Recommind, a maker of enterprise search products, is unveiling a version of its MindServer search and categorization platform Wednesday that makes it easier for companies to secure electronic files potentially needed in litigation.

Recent court decisions have made it clear that a company must preserve e-mail, documents and other files when it is being sued or if litigation can be reasonably anticipated.

Morgan Stanley agreed to a CDN$17.5 million fine in May after federal regulators charged that it repeatedly failed to provide tens of thousands of e-mails related to various investigations. In December, new federal rules took effect strengthening requirements that corporations save electronic records and produce them in court cases.

“The area of locking down documents for legal reasons is extremely important,” says Mark Gilbert, a vice of president at Gartner who was not familiar with MindServer. “The court system has come to appreciate how much all businesses operate in the electronic world.”

Recommind Wednesday is unveiling MindServer 5.0, which is “OEM ready” to simplify integration with other platforms, and includes the litigation hold function to preserve documents by making them read-only and putting them in a separate database.

An enterprise that decides it may be subject to litigation has its lawyers define the parameters of what information it might be required to produce in a court case. Based on those search parameters, MindServer looks for electronic files and clusters the information around various concepts, such as insider trading or misleading offers of credit. The results are used by MindServer to lock down databases or applications, or the results are passed onto a separate system to be locked down.

Like other enterprise search tools, MindServer looks for documents tied to specific concepts. For example, a company might want to find information about a “poison pill,” a term describing a company’s efforts to prevent it from being taken over by another company. A simple keyword search wouldn’t find the necessary documents because it relies on word frequency and other factors that may be inappropriate, Recommind officials say.

“We’re relating a concept to terminology,” says Craig Carpenter, Recommind’s vice president of marketing. The search system “needs to be able to learn on its own that poison pill relates to takeovers.”

Concept search is “certainly a trend,” says Susan Feldman, vice president for content technologies at IDC. “That’s one of the major differentiators between the more advanced enterprise search software and consumer Web search” like Google.

Recommind, a company with 60 employees founded in 2000, has its biggest customer base in the legal industry but says it is extending its reach into media, pharmaceutical companies and government. Clients include T-Mobile, BMW, DuPont, the Australian government’s industry and tourism department, and the library of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The litigation hold function should solve a problem encountered by many large corporations: gathering documents when you may be facing 125 lawsuits at any given time, says Browning Marean, a partner in the litigation group of DLA Piper, a worldwide law firm.

“The real question is how do you manage overlapping litigation holds?” says Marean, who is based in San Diego. “How do you . . .make sure you are capturing the data from the appropriate people?”

Marean says DLA Piper has been using MindServer for about two years. The product helps lawyers there find information from previous cases that can be used in new legal briefs.

“We’ve got maybe 20 million documents firm-wide and so the ability to be able to search and get relevant materials utilizing the Recommind engine is what we’ve done,” Marean says.

MindServer pricing starts at $88,000 per server processor. Companies already using MindServer will be able to use the new functions such as litigation hold for no extra cost.

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