- Military-focused insurer USAA sued PNC this week in federal court in Texas, alleging the bank infringed on two patents covering technology that allows mobile check deposits.
- "We have spent significant time and resources transforming our technology from an idea on a whiteboard to the service our members enjoy today and led to a revolution in consumer banking," Nathan McKinley, USAA's vice president of corporate development, said Wednesday in a statement. "Our goal has always been to be reasonably compensated for the benefits that others in the industry have received from using our [remote deposit capture] patents."
- USAA won two nine-figure judgments against Wells Fargo in the past year totaling more than $300 million, in patent-infringement cases related to mobile check deposits. The bank in January said it "strongly disagrees" with the outcome, calling the case an "industry issue" and adding that the bank was considering appealing the verdict. PNC did not respond to a San Antonio Express-News request for comment.
The complaint against PNC involves two patents not addressed in the Wells Fargo cases. But USAA's series of legal actions centers on technology developed by software company Mitek Systems and used by about 6,500 financial institutions, which would have to negotiate with USAA to pay additional licensing fees for their mobile deposit technology.
Mitek developed optical character recognition and intelligent character recognition software, which translates typed and handwritten text into ASCII coding that computers can read. The technology was originally used to read scanned paper checks and documents.
Mitek and USAA began collaborating in the early 2000s on remote deposit capture technology that would let customers deposit checks using their phones. But Mitek and USAA had a falling out, described at the time as a contract dispute.
The companies separately launched similar mobile deposit capture products — first Mitek in February 2008, then USAA in August 2009.
USAA sued Mitek in March 2012, claiming it "misappropriated USAA's proprietary and confidential information while working under contract for USAA, and then took numerous steps to claim it as its own."
Mitek countersued USAA two weeks later, claiming it violated Mitek's five patents on remote deposit capture. Mitek also accused USAA of breaching a licensing agreement.
The companies settled in 2014, and both kept their patents. But USAA sent letters to 100 banks in 2017, offering a "licensing program" to pay for the technology surrounding remote deposit capture capabilities and warning them they were violating the patents.
Mitek sued USAA again in November 2019. In its complaint, Mitek said USAA's litigation against Wells Fargo "placed a cloud over Mitek's products and services."
After the January verdict this year, Beth Richek, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, called the case an "industry issue involving numerous other banks that license remote mobile deposit technology from the same vendor, not USAA."
USAA declined to tell the News-Express whether any financial institutions have licensed the technology, but said it continues to seek "reasonable and mutually beneficial licensing agreements" with them.