For $795, LegalMetric LLC will tell you which judges rule most swiftly and which tend to favor patent holders. For lawyer and client, this knowledge can be very valuable. But does it increase the chances that the judge will come to a just decision?
It is the sort of information that Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow labeled “socially useless but privately valuable.” It doesn’t help the economy produce more goods or services. It creates nothing of beauty or pleasure. It simply helps someone get a bigger slice of the pie. Sure, if the product helps win cases, then both sides will buy it — just as both sides in high-stakes product-liability cases invest in jury-selection experts and software — and neither will have an unfair advantage. But does that make the society better off?