USAA Asserts Mobile Check Deposit Patents Against Wells Fargo


On June 7th, San Antonio, TX-based reciprocal inter-insurance exchange United Services Automobile Association (USAA) filed a lawsuit alleging claims of patent infringement against San Francisco, CA-based financial services multinational Wells Fargo. The complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Texas, involves the assertion of patents in the field of mobile financial services which, at first glance, appear as though they may face some rigorous validity challenges thanks to precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.

USAA is asserting a series of four patents in this case, including:

  • U.S. Patent No. 8699779, titled Systems and Methods for Alignment of Check During Mobile Deposit. Issued in April 2014, it covers a system for depositing a check using a mobile device having a camera, a display and a processor configured to project an alignment guide in the mobile device’s display, monitor an image of a check within the camera’s field of view, determine whether the check image aligns with the alignment guide, automatically capture the image of the check when aligned with the guide, and transmit the captured image of the check to a depository.
  • U.S. Patent No. 9336517, same title as the ‘779 patent. Issued in May 2016, it discloses a mobile device system wherein the alignment guide is associated with an information capture component to enable enhanced detection and extraction of information from a digital image of a check.
  • U.S. Patent No. 9818090, titled Systems and Methods for Image and Criterion Monitoring During Mobile Deposit. Issued last November, it claims a system comprising an image capture device, a presentation device and a processor configured to monitor a target document in the image capture device’s field of view with respect to a monitoring criterion, control the presentation device to present feedback information describing an instruction for satisfying the criterion, determine whether that criterion is satisfied, and capture an image of the target document upon satisfaction of the criterion.
  • U.S. Patent No. 8977571, titled Systems and Methods for Image Monitoring of Check During Mobile Deposit. Issued in March 2015, it covers a non-transitory computer-readable medium comprising computer-readable instructions for depositing a check into a user’s bank account.

As USAA’s complaint notes, the ‘779 and ‘571 patents generally cover the use of an alignment guide to reduce error rates in mobile check depositing, and the ‘090 and ‘571 patents generally cover improved computer systems which are able to capture high-quality check images. Such technology is critical to USAA, which serves members of the U.S. military and their families, because unlike traditional banks USAA reaches its customers remotely, not in brick-and-mortar bank facilities. USAA’s customers increasingly use the company’s website or mobile application to interact with the company’s services and the company developed these patents which cover the company’s Deposit@Home and Deposit@Mobile services.

USAA alleges that Wells Fargo Mobile Deposit remote deposit capture system, which was released years after either of USAA’s remote deposit services were first offered, infringes upon the asserted patents.

It will be interesting to see if any validity challenges under the Alice standard are brought by Wells Fargo to the district court.

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