Written by Brandy Bruyere, VP of Regulatory Compliance
In recent weeks, NAFCU has heard from multiple credit unions who have received letters from a firm alleging that the credit union's remote deposit capture function infringes on USAA's patents in this area. As widely reported in many news outlets, USAA started developing RDC technology in 2005 and now holds about 50 RDC-related patents. In 2012, USAA was involved in a dispute with another RDC provider, where the parties claimed each side infringed on the other's patents. The case ultimately ended in a settlement in 2014. Then, in 2017, noting that USAA wanted to "work toward recovering the investment" the institution made in RDC technology, USAA began sending letters to financial institutions via a law firm called Epicenter Law. In more recent months, credit unions have also started to receive similar correspondence.
Specifically, the letters "invite" the credit union to pay a licensing fee (unspecified in amount) to patent USAA's rights that are allegedly infringed by the credit union's RDC program. While the letters stress that the attorneys "are not litigation counsel" but rather focus on negotiating "patent licensing deals," the issue is still raising questions from credit unions.
If you receive a letter or have questions on this topic, a good place to reach out is to the credit union's RDC vendor(s). The credit union's agreement with the particular vendors may address indemnification in these kinds of claims. Our understanding is that at least some vendors have taken the position that their technology is not infringing on USAA's patents, and some vendors have even taken the position that they are not aware of any patent infringement by the vendor's technology – but that position may vary from vendor to vendor. NAFCU continues to monitor this issue and will keep members posted of any activity that develops.
ADA Motion to Dismiss. A federal judge in Virginia issued an order granting a credit union's motion to dismiss in a case claiming the credit union's website was not compliant with the ADA. NAFCU filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the credit union's arguments and continues to fight for credit unions on this issue. Credit unions can find more information on ADA website litigation here.
Lawyer Dog. Sometimes I wonder how much English my dog actually understands. I spend a large portion of my evenings policing Lemmy so he will not steal Nolan's food. Last week, I sternly told Lemmy to go to bed because he came pretty close to taking a PB&J from Nolan. Lemmy interpreted my order and went to bed but this is the barest of compliance, in my opinion.