The United States Automobile Association, or USAA, a financial services and insurance company, has won a series of legal battles over their claimed patent.
USAA has claimed a patent over certain aspects of technology, which allows its banking customers to deposit checks with their mobile phones.
Basically, a customer snaps a picture of both sides of their check using USAA’s technology. They then deposit it using USAA’s banking app.
Other financial companies have developed similar technology, and USAA has zealously protected its claimed intellectual property rights in its process.
Abandoning the conventional wisdom that businesses prefer not to take commercial disputes to trial, USAA successfully sued Wells Fargo for patent infringement and recovered $3 million following two separate jury verdicts.
USAA also successfully sued PNC Bank for infringement and got a huge payoff with a verdict of over $215 million. The verdict was high because the jury found PNC had intentionally infringed the patent. PNC Bank has indicated that it will appeal the decision.
Another company recently filed a proactive suit in a California court asking for a ruling that its technology does not violate USAA’s patent.
For its part, USAA has argued that it should have the right to reasonable compensation when other companies use their patented technology.
Patent litigation involving software, technology raises special challenges
Patent claims over software, including mobile technology like apps, are legally complicated for several reasons.
First of all, the invention of a mobile app or other technology will usually involve a number of different patents. By extension, a person’s new design may invite several different infringement claims.
Furthermore, software is more prone to patent and copyright disputes than other types of devices. When a company claims infringement, for example, the other business might argue that it developed its technology differently by using an independent process.
Developers in the Silicon Valley may find that they need to protect their interests in their intellectual property through litigation. They should strongly consider seeking experienced legal counsel when doing so.