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ROSS Intelligence was an early user of IBM Watson’s cloud platform, bringing artificial intelligence to legal research.
Founded & Funded
ROSS was founded in 2015 by Andrew Arruda, Jimoh Ovbiagele, and Pargles Dall`Oglio. They went through Y Combinator the same year, and raised 4.3 million in seed funding the following January.
In 2017, ROSS raised another $8.7 million and focused on growth and improving its product and marketing efforts. But in 2020, Thomson Reuters filed a lawsuit that would block ROSS from raising any further funding.
Shutting Down Due to Litigation
In May 2020, Thomson Reuters sued ROSS Intelligence. In its lawsuit, Thomson Reuters essentially claimed that ROSS worked with LegalEase, a legal research consulting company, to download Westlaw content in bulk for learning and testing purposes.
ROSS denies Thomson’s claims, and after announcing its closure ROSS filed a counterclaim for a declaration that Thomson Reuters does not have a valid copyright in the “Westlaw content”—the cases and statutes in its database.
On December 11, 2020, ROSS announced that it was shutting down operations due to a lawsuit by Thomson Reuters/Westlaw. While litigation is expensive, the bigger problem for ROSS was that nobody wants to invest in a startup that might go under, and ROSS is clearly not profitable yet. Or at least, not profitable enough to pay its lawyers and fund its growth (development and marketing).
It’s not clear whether ROSS will be able to recover as a company even if it wins its lawsuit, but it definitely intends to go down fighting. In the process, it may resolve one of the big legal issues around open access to law: Who owns the law, and can Westlaw effectively copyright the law by adding some headnotes and page numbers to cases and statutes?
For more information ROSS’s shutdown and the lawsuit, see Bob Ambrogi’s coverage at LawSites Blog:
- “Thomson Reuters Sues ROSS Intelligence Claiming Theft Of Proprietary Data”
- “Legal Research Company ROSS to Shut Down Under Pressure of Thomson Reuters’ Lawsuit”
- “ROSS Makes Next Move In Court, Pushing Forward In Fight Against Thomson Reuters Lawsuit”
(For more on the intellectual property issues surrounding the law in general, see the Access to Law entry.)
Published on January 16th, 2021. Last updated on May 12th, 2021, by Sam Glover.