USAA has filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Wells Fargo for unspecified damages, alleging Wells has infringed on USAA’s remote deposit capture patents.

More than a year ago, San Antonio-based USAA, which says it is the inventor of remote deposit capture, started to seek licensing fees from banks using the technology.

“We’ve been abundantly patient with Wells Fargo,” Nathan McKinley, a USAA vice president and its head of corporate development, said in an interview Friday. “Now is the time for us to get the court's assistance."

A Wells spokesman declined to comment on the patent infringement suit.

When asked if other banks were being sued, USAA said the suit names only Wells Fargo because the bank is one of the biggest adopters of remote mobile deposit capture and has failed to license the technology — which, USAA says, has improved the San Francisco bank’s bottom line.

“USAA recognizes that the advent of mobile check deposit has revolutionized the consumer banking experience, with considerable benefits for both banks and customers," the company said in a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. "But it is improper for Wells Fargo to use, without permission, patented technologies that USAA has spent immense resources to invent, develop, implement, and perfect.”

The suit claims USAA has suffered "immediate and irreparable harm" and seeks damages as well as equitable and other relief. No dollar figure was given.

USAA provides banking and other financial services to current or former military members and their families.

The company, regarded as a leader in banking technology, is largely a digital bank. It has some offices, but its members typically interact with the company electronically because military members are frequently dispatched for duty around the world.

Broadly, USAA believes the industry has been able to save billions of dollars from the technology it developed.

McKinley referred to the technology as one of the most significant advances in digital banking within the last decade. Eighty-seven million consumers use this kind of technology to deposit their checks, he said.

USAA developed its technology internally in 2005, before launching it to customers in 2006. In the complaint, USAA said it intends to defend the significant investments it has made in these technologies for the benefit of its members.

USAA has previously been involved in a legal battle with the vendor Mitek over patents related to mobile RDC technology that ended in 2014 with neither side paying the other.

Mary Wisniewski

Mary Wisniewski

Mary Wisniewski is deputy editor of BankThink. She also writes on a variety of subjects as part of American Banker's bank tech team.