WESTBROOK, Maine, and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/24/15)--Credit union leagues continue to combat "patent trolls," which have plagued credit unions and other industries for years with frivolous patent infringement claims.
The Maine Credit Union League recently helped get dismissed a block of faulty claims against credit unions that alleged patent infringement for use of remote terminal technology in ATMs.
Automated Transactions LLC sent demand letters to nearly every credit union in the state last year, as well as to banks, threatening to sue unless they paid a fee for a license in the technology.
Credit unions and other entities targeted by such attacks often pay a license fee because patent trolls strategically set the fee amount lower than the cost of litigation to encourage settlement. But Maine's credit unions called the entity's bluff, joined the suit as a defendant and showed up in court to successfully fight the questionable patent assertions.
"The joint defense group's aggressive defense forced ATL to dismiss all of its cases involving the group members, and all credit union members have now received releases and covenants not to sue from ATL and the ATM patent holder," said Adrian Kendall, league general counsel and attorney from the Norman, Hanson and DeTroy law firm.
This success comes on the heels of the league's work last year to support state patent troll legislation that thwarts this type of patent assertion.
Under that legislation, existing patent troll claims were not addressed and that had been of significant concern to the league, said John Murphy, league president/CEO. "It is gratifying to see it ruled in our favor, and we appreciated the hard work of all involved."
In another development, much further south in Florida, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions supported the introduction of bill in the Florida Senate that also would help diminish demand letter abuse by patent trolls. Further, it would lessen impediments to appeal infringement allegations and require stronger indemnification policies for end-users.
SB 1084, filed last week by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), would give the state's attorney general "more teeth in fighting these frivolous types of claims," Jared Ross, league senior vice president of association services/governmental affairs, told News Now.
A companion bill in the House will be filed shortly, Ross said.
Leagues nationwide are tracking similar patent troll bills that have been filed at the state level. States with pending patent troll legislation this year include Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Washington.