PNC Slapped with Lawsuit over Patents

Article excerpt

A patent acquisition giant founded by a former key executive at Microsoft Corp. claimed in a federal lawsuit that several of PNC Bank's online services infringe on some of its patents.

Intellectual Ventures I, LLC and Intellectual Ventures II, LLC of Bellevue, Wash., said in the lawsuit they have acquired more than 70,000 patents since 2000 and have made at least $3 billion by licensing those patents to companies.

Intellectual Ventures claim PNC's online bill payment system, Wealth Insight system, Visa personal and business check card systems and a payment card validation system used by merchants violate five of those patents and that the bank has ignored their demand that it buy licenses for those patents.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and does not state money damages sought.

PNC spokeswoman Marcy Zwiebel declined to comment.

"It's a patent portfolio company. They go around and buy intellectual property rights," said David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, a card-industry newsletter based in Carpinteria, Calif. "The derogatory term for it is 'patent trolling.'"

Robertson said systems technology patents are "very fertile ground for anyone who can defend intellectual property" and that such lawsuits have not been unusual in the card industry over the years. …