Greenway Corp. recently received what it claims is the first patent issued for a PC-based check-imaging system.

The patent covers how the Carrollton, Ga.-based company's PrimeImage software stores and indexes check images.

"The U.S. Patent Office saw that it was sophisticated or advanced enough in architecture to warrant a patent," said W. Thomas Green, Greenway's chief executive officer.

Along with protecting the company's intellectual property, the patent "gives us a lot of recognition in the world market," Mr. Green said.

Windows-based PrimeImage was launched 18 months ago and has 43 community bank clients.

The system decides where to store the check images, depending on how often the bank needs to access them. Check images can be stored in several media, including magnetic disks and tapes.

A system user need not know where an item is stored to retrieve it-the system locates it automatically.

"It's an application that is going to be more and more important as more and more people start building image archives," said David Medeiros, an analyst with Tower Group.

Few banks have put stored images to much use, Mr. Medeiros said. Most have the digitized pictures for single-use applications such as monthly image statements.

Greenway is not alone in its desire to patent imaging products related to banking. Wachovia Corp. is seeking patent protection for a document- imaging service it provides to corporate customers.

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