Tag Archives: financial institutions

Automakers and tech giants are locked in a strange patent race

At time when patent certainty and value are under attack, global automobile manufacturers are competing with major technology companies for IP rights to the future, especially driverless cars. 

The race is reminiscent of the competition between financial institutions, bigtech and fintech start-ups to control innovations in transactions, including those that relate to blockchain.

The automakers, like the banks, have traditionally cross-licensed each other in an effort to maintain patent peace and keep their franchise exclusive. It has yet to be determined if those participating in new technologies will wish to be similarly collaborative. Businesses like Google, Apple and Amazon certainly have the resources  and leverage to enforce inventions, if they choose to, or even buy a competitor.

The WSJ reports that a large part of filing in the auto industry has been with regard to self driving and connected cars, with 65% of GM’s filed patents in this area. Toyota, with more than 3,000 patents filed is by far the leader, but does not appear to figure into the self-driving patent race, choosing to focus on other areas of innovation, like efficiency (see graph below).

“Companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple, are pouring enormous resources into a vision of mobility that focuses on the driver experience,” writes Forbes“— so much so that they have the potential to take away some of the limelight — and profits — from the automakers many presumed would dominate car connectivity and driverless technology.”


There is some irony in the auto industry and financial patent races, since the Alice decision made software patents difficult to obtain and even harder to enforce. What are they thinking?

It remains to be seen how successful tech giants and disruptive banking and auto tech upstarts will be in competing with established players for innovation and rights – and if and how they will be able to deploy them. (With patents, sometimes leverage is more powerful than revenue.)

Two things are for certain: the source, ownership and importance of transportation inventions are changing; and the desire to secure meaningful patents that can be licensed will increase.

Image source: WIPO, Oliver Wyman; WSJ

Schumer: Strike Affirmed Patents That Cost Banks $400m

Senator Seeks Free IP Pass for Banks –

Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, a staunch supporter of financial institutions in his home state, is seeking a double standard for patent rights that have been both granted and re-examined.

He is helping banks try to reverse a patent ruling that has required them to pay $400 million in legal settlements and license fees to a small Texas company, Data Treasury Corp.

A provision inserted by Schumer into the long-awaited “American Invents Act” (H.R. 1249), which according to sources is will come before the House starting on Wednesday, June 22 at noon EST, appears to have only one aim: Strip DataTreasury Corp., of Plano, Texas, of a patent for processing digital checks that has made the company wealthy at banks’ expense. At least two House members are said to want the provision removed.

In November 2005, First Data Corporation filed a request for a reexamination of the DataTreasury Ballard patents citing numerous earlier publications that it felt either anticipated the DataTreasury inventions or made them obvious. In 2007, the USPTO not only upheld both patents but further allowed DataTreasury to claim additional inventions that were disclosed but not claimed in the original applications.

Reported the The New York Times:

“[Inventor Claudio Ballard] bristles at the characterization of DataTreasury as a company that merely exploits dubious patents.

“It is true that the company now is just a holding company for the patents with only a few employees. At one time it had more than 100 — before the banks stole his patented technology, he said.

“‘I didn’t invent the scanner; I didn’t invent networking, or computers or software,” he said. “But I am an expert at systems integration, and I created this complete end-to-end solution” for digital check processing.'”

More than three dozen banks and financial institutions have settled with or signed license agreements with DataTreasury to use its inventions, including Bank of NY Mellon, Bank One, Citibank, Diebold, First Data, JP Morgan Chase, Mellon Bank, Merrill Lynch, NCR and PNC Financial Services.

Read more on Newsmax.com: Schumer Sides With Banks Against Patent Holder.

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What is Schumer thinking? The courts via Bilski have already spoken on business method patents. Besides, financial institutions and their local Senator should be careful what they wish for.

The House of Representatives should not permit valid, licensed and reexamined patents to be held to a separate, higher standard so that a select group of infringers can avoid paying licensing fees. If it does, expect fewer investors to risk their capital on innovative businesses and new technologies.

Illustration source: bastiatinstitute.org


House Republicans Reach Accord on Bill

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A note from Hal Wegner via the Internet Patent News Service:

“A tentative deal has apparently been reached amongst House Republican leadership factions on the America Invents Act that makes it “likely” that it will start to be considered in the House floor this Wednesday:

Thus, the House GOP leadership has announced a schedule for next week which includes the following: ‘On Wednesday, June 22, 2011 the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for legislative business… and likely begin consideration of H.R. 2021 1249 – America Invents Act.'”

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