Intellectual Ventures presses patent claims against banks

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When it comes to patent trolling, there may be a new No. 1 villain in the banking industry. DataTreasury had long been at the top of the most vilified list, but a new company seems to be muscling in on its territory, one with some big name executives. Intellectual Ventures has launched a super high-profile campaign against the industry, filing a raft of suits that claim banks have violated patents, according to media reports.

Since May, the firm has targeted the likes of Capital One, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and others.

The firm denies that it is trolling operation, and told the Financial Times that it actually supports legislation to reduce frivolous patent lawsuits. In this case of banks, it said it had no choice but to sue because the banks refused to sign licensing deals.

Unsurprisingly, the patents at issue cover very broad process: online payments security and online banking.

Intellectual Ventures was founded by Nathan Myrhvold, a former chief technology officer of Microsoft, and backed by investors including Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, giving it an impressive pedigree. The firm says it has raked in more than $3 billion in licensing fees on patents since it was launched in 2000. It has also been the target of some less-than-flattering media coverage, such as this item in NPR.

These suits might become early test cases of the new protections that banks have won in their fight against patent lawsuits. Section 18 of the America Invests Act creates a post-grant review procedure within the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), known as a Transitional Review. The idea is to give banks a way to challenge patents that they are alleged to have violated. We'll see if banks avail themselves of this tool.

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