Wells Fargo loses another patent lawsuit to USAA

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Wells Fargo has lost a second mobile deposit patent lawsuit brought against it by USAA in a federal court in Marshall, Tex.

The San Francisco-based bank was found liable for $102.8 million for improperly infringing on USAA's patents for mobile deposit.

It is the second recent loss for Wells Fargo versus USAA. In November, Wells Fargo was found liable in the amount of $200 million for infringing on two other patents.

Wells Fargo has indicated it may appeal both decisions.

“Wells Fargo strongly disagrees with this jury verdict and does not believe it has infringed on USAA’s patent rights,” said Beth Richek, vice president and communications adviser at Wells Fargo, speaking of the latest decision. “We believe this is an industry issue involving numerous other banks that license remote mobile deposit technology from the same vendor, not USAA. We are considering our options based on the verdict and trial.”

Last year, Wells Fargo said it "strongly disagrees with this jury verdict and does not believe it has infringed on USAA's patent rights."

Both cases were tried in Marshall, a town well known for its patent-friendly court.

USAA, however, hailed the latest decision and suggested other banks should be on alert if they use the same technology.

“This verdict further validates our position that we created mobile deposit capture technology,” said Nathan McKinley, USAA vice president of corporate development. “Wells Fargo, and the rest of the banking industry, has benefited from our technology and we look forward to working with banks to create reasonable and mutually beneficial license agreements. Our goal has always been to be reasonably compensated for the investment in mobile banking innovation we have made on behalf of our members and the military community.”

They’re the latest events in a dispute that has been going on for years between USAA and Mitek, Wells Fargo’s mobile deposit technology vendor. The two companies collaborated on mobile deposit technology in the early 2000s, then fell out. Both say they invented the technology for taking a photo of a check with a smartphone and capturing the information on the check. Each holds patents on mobile deposit technology.

Mitek launched a mobile deposit capture product in February 2008. USAA released a similar feature, Deposit@mobile, in its app in August 2009.

USAA and Mitek sued each other over their mobile deposit capture patents and settled in 2014; both companies kept their patents.

These lawsuits have repercussions for the industry, because Mitek’s technology is used by 6,500 other institutions. Two years ago, USAA sent letters to 100 banks telling them they were in violation of USAA’s mobile deposit patents.

In seeking the fines against Wells Fargo, USAA’s attorney, Jason Sheasby at Irell & Manella in Los Angeles, said he was asking for 85 cents per successful mobile deposit.

Mitek filed its own lawsuit Nov. 1 against USAA in California. In its complaint, it says its technology didn’t infringe on USAA patents, and that USAA's lawsuit against Wells Fargo had “placed a cloud over Mitek’s products and services.”

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