The easy answer is—nothing. However, in what has become disturbingly common, another NPE has filed a lawsuit claiming patent infringement by accused products shockingly dissimilar from the technology disclosed by the patent-in-suit. On August 29, NPE Kensington Grace Holdings, LLC (“Kensington”), through local counsel White Field, Inc., sued ten California-based banks in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Los Angeles Division.9 The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent No. 7,694,129 (“the ’129 Patent”), entitled “Method of Processing Digital Data and Images.”10 The inventor listed on the ’129 Patent, and apparently the sole owner of Kensington, is Dr. Andrew DiRienzo.11 The ’129 Patent is a continuation of twelve applications (ten issued patents and two abandoned applications) and claims prior back to March 25, 1997.
The accused products are remote deposit services offered by each of the defendants. According to the Complaint, “each Defendant uses a computer system on a computer network to perform a method for processing digital data and images that receives data and images into identifiable fields wherein at least some of the data and images identifies the source of the data and images and presents graphical user interface that presents data and images from identifiable fields.” The quoted language from the Complaint somewhat tracks the language of the ’129 Patent’s only independent claim, Claim 1. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that each defendant offers remote deposit services to its individual, commercial and/or small business customers that infringe one or more claims of the ’129 Patent. The defendants’ services described in the Complaint generally relate to the growing field of Remote Deposit Capture (“RDC”). RDC has been defined as “a service which allows a user to scan checks and transmit the scanned images and/or ACH-data to a bank for posting and clearing.”12 The relationship between the technology disclosed in the ’129 Patent and RDC is at best unclear.
The ’129 Patent discloses “a coherent system that allows for the electronic filing, transmission, and processing of ‘insurance claims with attachments,’ and to thereby overcome the many deficiencies of the hybrid system claims processing methodology described above.” Throughout the specification of the ’129 Patent, the inventor enumerates and then purports to solve the problems associated with filing medical claims that require manual entry of data and attachment of records in order to receive prior approval of the claim. While the specification closes with the standard “other modifications to and variations of the invention will be apparent,” without reference to RDC in the specification, one can question whether either the inventor or those skilled in the art would extend the reach of the invention to cover RDC.
Most likely, the Plaintiff carefully selected the defendants in this case (each has little patent litigation experience and is not likely to engage in an expensive drawn-out defense) in an effort to score a few quick licenses to: (1) fund future litigation; (2) increase pressure on others to take a license; and/or (3) generate interest from more well-known NPEs to purchase this family of patents. The Central District of California does not have patent rules so Plaintiff may also want an early Markman in hopes of a broad, overreaching claims construction. At some point, Plaintiff should expect a strong non-infringement fight as well as a challenge to the ’129 Patent’s validity.