Wexis

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Wexis is a humorous portmanteau used to refer to the alleged duopoly of publishing conglomerates that dominate the U.S. legal information services industry – namely, West Publishing and LexisNexis.[1]

Neither of these companies is independent – they are parts of much larger conglomerates that dominate the entire information services sector. West is owned by Thomson Reuters, while LexisNexis is a division of Reed Elsevier.

These companies dispute the allegation that they are a duopoly; LexisNexis actually sued one company which used the terms "Wexis" and "duopoly" in its marketing literature.[2]

Antitrust issues[edit]

The United States district court imposed various requirements regarding the companies' operations in a consent decree resulting from an antitrust inquiry by the United States Department of Justice under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act in connection with Thomson's purchase of West Publishing, and West's and Lexis's settlement of various outstanding claims in that proceeding.[3] For example, West was required to license the "star pagination" in its printed reporters under certain terms.[4] Otherwise, lawyers in jurisdictions that require citations to all official and unofficial reporters would have to subscribe to both online services to get all the necessary page numbers for citations in their briefs. The judge also had concerns about the Thomson and West products ordered to be divested through a sale to Lexis,[5] primarily statutory and case law publications of Lawyers Cooperative Publishing, such as United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition and United States Code Service,[6] but those sales were ultimately approved.

During the 1990s and 2000s, almost every law school in the United States had a pair of Westlaw and LexisNexis printers like these, to which students could print research results for free. However, Westlaw discontinued free printing for law students effective June 30, 2013.

Both companies are known for their aggressive marketing programs in American law schools. Law students may print documents for free that are obtained through their respective services. Both companies also have programs through which students may earn points (based on their number of searches) that can be redeemed for free gifts.[7]

Wolters Kluwer is the largest company trying to establish a beachhead against the "Wexis" duopoly; it has taken over offline legal publishers like Aspen Publishing and online legal services like Loislaw, and owns Commerce Clearing House (CCH). However, Wolters has not yet unified its online and offline legal offerings under a single brand (although it has gathered its existing brands under the umbrella of "Wolters Kluwer Law and Business"). Most importantly, Wolters lacks an automated cross-referencing or citation-checking service that can directly compete against Westlaw's KeyCite or Shepard's Citations from LexisNexis.

The Bureau of National Affairs is the best known of the remaining independent law publishing companies. Both BNA and CCH have arrangements with Lexis and Westlaw to publish their content though those electronic services, although they also provide their subscribers web access to certain publications.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jean McKnight, "Wexis versus the Net," Illinois Bar Journal 85, no. 4 (April 1997): 189-190.
  2. ^ Anonymous, "LexisNexis wins first phase of legal battle with competitor," Business First-Columbus, 29 June 2001, A13; see also Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. TheLaw.net Corp., 269 F. Supp. 2d 942 (S.D. Ohio 2003) (denying TheLaw.net Corporation's motion to dismiss LexisNexis's suit).
  3. ^ Final Judgment: U.S. v. The Thomson Corporation and West Publishing Company, Civil No.: 96-1415 (PLF), United States District Court for the District of Columbia, March 7, 1997.
  4. ^ Final Judgment, Part IX.
  5. ^ Transcript - Conference before Judge Friedman, February 6, 1996 -- USA v. Thomson, 96 CV 1415, USDC District of Columbia.
  6. ^ Final Judgment, Part IV and Exhibit A1.
  7. ^ Maggie Rauch, "Court of appeal: legal information providers vie for student loyalty," Incentive 179, no. 3 (March 2005): 13.