In court documents filed Thursday, USAA’s lawyers said Wells Fargo knowingly infringed on four of its patents having to do with mobile check depositing, a product that USAA rolled out in 2009.
Court documents said USAA spent millions of dollars and thousands of employee hours pioneering what they call remote deposit capture technology.
“We want to ensure that our patented technology is not used unlawfully by Wells Fargo,” said Nathan McKinley, VP of corporate development, on the company’s website.
The patents in question largely have to do with how a check is photographed by a mobile app. Two of the patents have to do with the mobile app’s built-in alignment guide, which assists users with capturing the check correctly.
The four patents were issued to USAA from April of 2014 up until November of last year.
USAA said it entered into licensing negotiations with Wells Fargo last August. Wells Fargo didn’t obtain a license and has financially benefited from the tech.
Wells Fargo has more than 21 million mobile app users.
USAA is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and enhanced damages, which allows courts to issue three times the amount of damages assessed in patent cases, for the “immediate and irreparable harm” Wells Fargo has done.
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In an email, USAA communications director Matt Hartwig said, for more than a year, the company has been notifying banks and credit unions using USAA technology that it needed to be licensed.
He wouldn’t disclose if any companies were currently negotiating licensing deals with USAA, and couldn’t comment on any future lawsuits around mobile check depositing.
He wrote the company has more than 50 patents around mobile check depositing.
Wells Fargo declined to comment on the case.
USAA filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Marshall, a well-known hub of patent lawsuits. For years Marshall, with 24,000 residents, had more patent infringement cases filed there than any other U.S. District Court. Last year, the Supreme Court changed the rules around where a company could file, which caused a dramatic drop in the number of patent cases were filed in the city, according to the litigation data mining company Lex Machina.