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Financial Innovation: From Smarter ATMs to Investing Casino Winnings

Posted: Monday, Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »

Lately, our Companies We Follow series has focused on some big names in innovation from the financial sector. Both the Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are heavily involved in developing technologies to serve the personal finance needs of individual customers as well as many tools that are designed to aid organizations large and small. Today, we thought that we would spend some time scoping out a wider breadth of invention from entities outside of the two banking giants which typically earn most of our focus.

In terms of innovation, banking services have been impacted by the incredible spread of computing and Internet technologies over the last twenty years. Indeed, patent portfolios that deal with point-of-sale biometrics, secure identity authentication for electronic funds transfer, automated teller machines and transaction card systems that prevent unauthorized use have all recently been offered by ICAP patent brokerage. But even with this innovation and activity some industry pundits have surmised that the Internet age has yet to truly impact the financial services sector. If these predictions are true we could see truly disruptive innovations that will continue to impact the marketplace in positive ways, perhaps even approaching the level of disruption that smartphones caused when upending both personal computing and cellular communications.

Digital currencies like Bitcoin, social media-based identification systems and enhanced application programming interfaces for online banking services have been developed and are slowly establishing larger user bases. Some banks and financial services corporations have varying opinions on what constitutes innovation in their fields, but a focus on developing stronger relationships with consumers is a common thread throughout.

I Thought Banks Didn’t Like Financial Software Patents?

Posted: Sunday, Dec 7, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 5 comments

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been a vocal critic of financial service software patents.

As part of our ongoing Companies We Follow series, last week we profiled the recently issued patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to the Bank of America, as well as the recently issued patents granted to JPMorgan Chase. As you might expect, both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase seek patents on various innovations related to financial transactions, cybersecurity and identity theft technologies, smart card technologies and smartphone applications. Not too shocking really.

What really caught my attention, however, were the patent claims that Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are both receiving. What is particularly interesting is that these companies are receiving what can only be characterized as software patents, which further explicitly claim computer implemented business methods. It is at least a little surprising that these types of patents are still being issued after the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. This also isn’t the first time that we’ve noticed that big banks are continuing to get software patents issued in what for most others is an extremely hostile environment for computer implemented methods, computer systems and especially for financial service business methods. Perhaps this is the luck of the draw, perhaps applicants who are not big banks are being swept up in the unprecedented scrutiny that the USPTO is secretly placing on numerous applications, or perhaps the big banks just find themselves dealing with patent examiners who unapologetically work for the Patent Granting Authority. Still, one has to wonder.

Truthfully, the fact that big banks are getting software patents on claims written explicitly to cover computer implemented methods is quite ironic. The banks were the ones who pushed for what is known as covered business method patent review (CBM), which is a variety of post grant review (PGR) that came into being in September 2011. Post grant review is only applicable to patents granted on applications examined under the first to file provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA).{1}

A Devotion to Robot Innovation at Samsung

Posted: Saturday, Dec 6, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »

Perhaps more so than any other technology company that we focus on, Samsung seems to have a real fascination with robots. Indeed, we have noticed robotic technologies in recent Samsung patent filings just about every time we’ve covered the company as part of our Companies We Follow series. If you go back and look through our coverage Samsung in our archives, virtually every article will mention a robotics innovation or two.

It is no great surprise that once again robots are seen as a recurring theme in the Samsung portfolio. We notice a variety of robots in the patent applications recently published, as well as the patents recently issued to Samsung. In fact, we were intrigued by the number and scope of robotics related innovations the company continues to pursue.

With this in mind we decided to split up our most review of Samsung into several of articles, with this article focused on Samsung’s innovative pursuit of robot technology.

Federal Circuit Finds Software Patent Claim Patent Eligible

Posted: Friday, Dec 5, 2014 @ 2:47 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 28 comments

Judge Ray Chen of the Federal Circuit, speaking at AIPLA on 10/24/2014.

Earlier today the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a ruling in DDR Holdings, LLC v., L.P. The appeal was brought by defendants National Leisure Group, Inc. and World Travel Holdings, Inc. (collectively, NLG), who appealed from a final judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas entered in favor of DDR Holdings. Following trial, a jury found that NLG infringed the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,993,572 and 7,818,399. The jury also found the asserted claims of the ’572 and ’399 patents were not invalid and awarded $750,000 in damages.

On appeal to the Federal Circuit, in an opinion written by Judge Chen and joined by Judge Wallach, determined that the asserted claims of the ’572 patent were anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102(a) and, therefore, vacated the award of damages and prejudgment interest to DDR, which had been collectively premised on infringement of the ’572 and ’399 patents and without apportionment.

Of particular interest, the Federal Circuit found that the ‘399 patent constituted patent eligible subject matter, was not invalid and was infringed. This is big news because in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank software patents have been falling at alarming rate. Assuming this decision stands any further review we finally have some positive law to draw from that will provide clues into how to tailor patent claims to make them capable of overcoming what has become a significant hurdle to patentability— namely the abstract idea doctrine.

Rewriting Patent Law by Judicial Decision – A Conversation with Sherry Knowles

Posted: Friday, Dec 5, 2014 @ 9:30 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 6 comments

Sherry Knowles

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Sherry Knowles on the record. Knowles is the former the Senior Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel of GlaxoSmithKline who took on the USPTO and prevailed during the claims and continuation saga in 2007-2008. She has since moved on to found her own strategic consulting firm. I caught up with her in advance of her speaking at Managing IP’s European Patent Reform Forum, which will take place in Silicon Valley on December 10 and New York on December 12. Part 1 of our interview was devoted primarily to a discussion of what lies ahead as Europe embarks on substantial procedural reform and harmonization across the EU.

What appears below is the final segment of my interview with Knowles. In this installment we get into a passionate discussion of obviousness, addressing recent Federal Circuit decisions that really should have everyone scratching their heads. While the law is not always applied as written, if the law of obviousness were ever applied literally as written by the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit could anything ever be patented any more?

Samsung Patents Focus on Nanotech and Augmented Reality

Posted: Friday, Dec 5, 2014 @ 7:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »

Samsung headquarters in South Korea.

As of this writing, Samsung has entered some turbulent waters in the ocean of smartphone technologies, and the company may shake-up the administration of its mobile business because of an unforeseen drop in profits. Samsung is trying to protect its mobile business in the United States through the court system as it’s recently petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to block sales of Nvidia mobile graphics processing chips on patent infringement claims. Other restructuring efforts within the corporation, including the takeover of Samsung Engineering by Samsung Heavy Industries for $2.5 billion, have run up against opposition from shareholders.

The corporation is also in the middle of some major restructuring, having just announced the sale of four Samsung Group firms for about $1.72 billion, including defense technology developer Samsung Techwin. Innovation in personal computing services are still strong at the company and technologies like the EyeCan+, which allows users to access computing functions by moving their eyes, will continue to support revolutionary Samsung products and services. Recent comments from the CEO of virtual reality developer Oculus VR should be a harbinger of greater investment in augmented and virtual reality on behalf of Samsung.

Still, despite what else may be going on at Samsung we can always count on the fact that they will be filing and receiving patents. Our recent look at Samsung for our Companies We Follow series found plenty of innovations that many consumers around the world can look forward to in the coming months and years. Nanotechnologies utilized for the creation of light-emitting diodes and liquid crystal displays have been protected for the company recently, as a number of patents we explore below show. Other areas of strong research and development activity within the company includes robotics, alternative energies and virtual reality systems, each of which we discuss in further detail today.

Software Patent History III: The Federal Circuit Decides Arrhythmia Research & Alappat

Posted: Thursday, Dec 4, 2014 @ 3:30 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | No Comments »

This is part 3 of a multi-part series exploring the history of software patents in America. To start reading from the beginning please see The History of Software Patents in the United States. For all of our articles in this series please visit History of Software Patents. 


For some time after the Supreme Court decision in Diehr, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit applied what was known as the Freeman-Walter-Abele test to determine whether a computer program is patentable subject matter pursuant to 35 USC 101. The last of these cases, In re Abele, was decided by the Federal Circuit a little more than a  year after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Diehr.

Given that the Supreme Court almost never overrules its own prior decisions, then Justice Rehnquist tried to explain in Diehr that both Gottschalk v. Benson and Parker v. Flook remained good law, despite the fact that the holding in Diehr clearly set patent eligibility for software on a new path different and distinct from the path chosen by the Court in Benson and Flook. Indeed, in a recent interview Judge Richard Linn told me: ” I have great difficulty rationalizing the Supreme Court’s opinions in Flook and Diehr, and in many regards I think those decisions are irreconcilably in conflict.” Judge Linn isn’t the only one to hold that opinion. If only his panel opinion in Alice were the law of the land — but that is another story for another day.

The Right of Publicity: Cashing in on Being Famous

Posted: Thursday, Dec 4, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | No Comments »

Kristina Dinerman, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Yahoo! Inc.

In part 1 of my interview with Kristina Dinerman we discussed Katherine Heigl, Michael Jordan and Elvis impersonators, as well as the impact social media has had on rights of publicity in the Internet age. In this final installment of our conversation Dinerman discusses how aggressive celebrities are becoming with respect to protecting their right of publicity in the age of social media, whether the Supreme Court may interject itself at some point and decide whether tweeting constitutes commercial speech, and the growing phenomenon of people becoming celebrities  as the result of being famous for, well… being famous.

QUINN: So what do you think is going to wind up happening longer term with the Internet and right of publicity? If you were looking into your crystal ball say maybe over the short term, intermediate, and then long term? I suspect we’re going to see more of these cases but what kind of cases do you think we’re going to be seeing?

DINERMAN: Well, one of the things that is happening is that the line between commercial and noncommercial speech is continuing to blur. We are going to see more cases that involve advertising integrated into content. As advertising continues to develop I think that you’re going to see more crossover between celebrities who are trying to self promote and companies who are trying to increase awareness of their brand. And there will continue to be more intersection between the two. Take award shows for example such as the recent American Music Awards. The next day you see photos of celebrities in what they wore and you see brands trying to to connect to that, with ads like “get the look.”   I think that you’re going to see this continued intersection between advertising and social media and it will be interesting to see how celebrities will and will not allow companies to use their pictures, their images and their names.

JPMorgan Chase Software Patent Portfolio Grows Larger

Posted: Thursday, Dec 4, 2014 @ 7:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »

Jamie Dimon, President and CEO of JPMorgan Chase

Headquartered in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is a multinational banking and financial services company as well as the largest U.S. banking institution in terms of assets. Recent months have been rocky ones for the company to navigate. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would be firing 3,000 more workers this year than previously reported, raising the total number of jobs lost at the company to 27,000 over a two-year period. Around the same time, it was also reported that the company was setting aside an additional $2.4 for legal cost estimates in the wake of allegations of criminal activities in foreign exchange markets, currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. JPMorgan Chase is looking to extend its footprint in Africa into Kenya and other East African economies.

Patent filing activities are still strong at JPMorgan Chase as we return to the banking giant in our Companies We Follow series. A couple of innovations we noticed in the corporation’s recent patent applications ease the burden required to enter and transmit data for financial transactions, especially when registering financial accounts for recurring payments on a club membership. Payment rewards systems for mortgage holders and other credit account owners are discussed below as well. We also talk about a technology for allowing users to communicate with self-serving kiosks by using sign language.

Several patents that we found in our latest survey protect a couple of transactional card inventions for JPMorgan Chase, including one system intended to support the use of smart cards which can display a prepaid balance. Simpler methods of signing online users into networked financial services are the focus of a few other patents we discovered. Also recently patented was a method of preventing identity theft. But what really caught our attention were the patent claims JPMorgan Chase recently obtained. Many of the claims cover computer implemented processes, while many are clearly drawn to software innovations even if they don’t specifically define computer implemented processes in the preamble of the claims. It would seem that like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase is not suffering through Alice rejections that so many others experience.

Nebraska to Pay $725K Because of AG Meddling in Patent Case

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014 @ 4:31 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 4 comments

Jon Bruning

Yesterday the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska entered an order in Activision TV, Inc. v. Bruning (Civil Action No. 8:13-cv-00215), ordering outgoing Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning to pay $325,000 for attorneys fees and costs to ActiveLight, Inc. (formerly Activision and referred to as “plaintiff”) and to pay another $400,000 in attorneys fees and costs to MPHJ Technology Investments, who had intervened in the matter. Making this sanction even more painful is the fact that the grand total of $725,000 amounts to almost 10% of the 2014 budget for the Attorney General’s Office.

Bruning had demanded that the attorneys for ActiveLight and MPHJ stop engaging in patent enforcement activities in the State of Nebraska, a gross overreach of his authority as a State Attorney General and done with little or no investigation that would suggest any violation of State law. The order signed by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon approved a Joint Motion for Entry of Judgment Awarding Attorneys Fees filed by MPHJ, ActiveLight and the State of Nebraska.

The genesis of the dispute is grounded in what otherwise should have been a patent infringement matter where the State of Nebraska, like all States, has no authority to act.  The grievance that lead to ActiveLight and MPHJ suing the Nebraska Attorney General relates to Bruning’s issuance of a cease and desist order against counsel for ActiveLight (then Activision) preventing the law firm of Farney Daniels from engaging in any patent enforcement activity within the State of Nebraska on behalf of clients of the firm. Because counsel for ActiveLight also represent MPHJ Technologies the cease and desist order that barred ActiveLight’s attorneys from engaging in any patent enforcement activity in Nebraska also significantly impacted MPHJ Technologies.

Bank of America Patents: From Customer Loyalty to Cybersecurity and Social Networking

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 2 comments

The Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) of Charlotte, NC, is one of America’s largest banking and financial services companies and a major player in the fields of wealth management and investment banking. The company is currently at the center of a series of investigations in the United States, Europe and Asia regarding allegations that the institution intentionally manipulated foreign currency markets. Another BoA legal case was added to the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court on the subject of voiding second mortgages on a home that is “underwater, which could have large implications for the nation’s real estate industry. In terms of its own real estate, Bank of America has closed 42 branches across the country over the past three months, the most in the country over that period, while only opening one branch, although this likely has more to do with the spread of online banking services than any signs of corporate trouble.

IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series has profiled BoA’s innovations on a few occasions in the past. In this edition, we found a number of patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect technologies for customer loyalty rewards programs, including one innovative system for encouraging account holders to achieve long-term goals. Another patent application would protect a technology designed to identify opportunities for business mergers or acquisitions. We also discuss one patent application filed to protect a platform for disseminating carbon credit data based on personal transactions.

Social networking platforms were at the core of a couple of patents recently issued to Bank of America, including one invention meant to help uncover potential social networking opportunities based on financial transactions. A couple of cybersecurity technologies, including one for isolating an infected client device to stop of the spread of a virus within a network, are also featured. We were also intrigued to share a patent protecting a method of presenting vehicle information of interest to someone who may want to buy a vehicle by capturing a video feed of that vehicle.

Toward a More Favorable Patent System: European Patent Reform

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014 @ 6:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | No Comments »

Sherry Knowles

Sherry Knowles is a name that everyone in the patent community either knows, or should know. From  2006-2010, Knowles was the Senior Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel at GlaxoSmithKline, where she served as the worldwide head of patents for all litigation and transactional matters. Those familiar with recent patent history know that this time frame coincides with the failed attempt by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to limit the number of claims a patent could have and limit the number of continuation applications in any patent family. Knowles was on the front lines of that important fight when GlaxoSmithKline sued the USPTO and prevailed.

In 2008, Managing IP Magazine named Knowles one of the top 10 most influential people in Intellectual Property, and  in 2010, the New Jersey Intellectual Property Lawyers Association awarded the Jefferson Medal for exceptional contribution to Intellectual Property. In November 2011, Intellectual Asset Management Magazine listed Knowles among the top fifty individuals, companies and institutions that have shaped the IP marketplace over the preceding eight years.

I recently had the opportunity to chat on the record with Knowles, who now fronts her own strategic consulting firm, and we had a wide ranging discussion about European patent reforms and the law of obviousness as interpreted by the Federal Circuit. The first half of our interview, which appears below, is devoted to discussion of European patent reform and what it means from a strategic standpoint for patent owners. In part 2 we get into a very spirited discussion of obviousness and the Federal Circuit.