CU Hit With Patent Infringement Suit

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Entrust, a digital security company headquartered here, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Addison Avenue FCU.

Officials at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based credit union declined to comment.

Chris Voice, Entrust's chief technology officer, told The Credit Union Journal the company has held a U.S. patent for grid authentication since Jan. 27, 1998. He described grid authentication as a "strong, second-factor authentication that goes beyond passwords."

"It works like the game 'Battleship,'" Voice explained. "The grid has letters across the top and numbers along the side, and there are random characters at each point along the grid."

A financial institution issues a grid to each member or customer, he continued. When a member is attempting to log on to a secure system, he or she is prompted to enter the random character at a given grid-point. "The person is asked: 'What's at B-2?' By answering a couple different questions, he proves he owns the card," said Voice.

According to Voice, Addison Avenue FCU has never been an Entrust customer. He said the credit union developed and employed its own authentication method-one that was covered by Entrust's patent, he asserted.

"We were aware Addison Avenue was preparing to launch this service. We tried to reach a mutually acceptable outcome, but we were rebuffed at every attempt," he declared. "We have to protect the investment we've made in developing and commercializing our intellectual property. To us, this lawsuit is a last resort. We had sought to resolve this more amicably-a win-win for both parties."

The patent infringement suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Voice said as of one week after the action was filed, Entrust had not received a response from the credit union.

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