Monday, April 09, 2012

Mitek Patents Called into Question

Mitek's entire portfolio of patents around mobile check and document capture are being challenged by USAA The U.S. military insurance company is basically saying Mitek lifted its "Remote Deposit Capture" technology from it, while USAA was working with Mitek to license its CAR/LAR technology. Mitek has six patents related to mobile capture, the first one granted in Aug. 2010. Mitek has ridden these patents and the mobile capture technology it has developed in conjunction with them, to double its revenue in 2011, from $5 million to $10 million and a market capitalization of almost nothing to a peak of over $300 million.

Mitek's value crashed to about half the level of that peak in the wake of the USAA allegations, which were file on March 29. Basically, USAA, which was working with Mitek as far back as 2006, is claiming that Mitek stole technology (which USAA had already filed patents for) and that Mitek incorporated that technology in in its own patent applications. To add insult to injury, USAA is saying Mitek recently came back to USAA and told USAA that it would have to license the stolen technology from Mitek.

There are also some other arguments about the contract between USAA and Mitek involving page counts, so this relationship has definitely soured on several fronts.

One of the interesting sidenotes for our industry as a whole is that USAA is seeking to have all of Mitek's patent claims invalidated, which would certainly enable ISVs developing remote capture applications to breathe a little easier. After all, Kofax' Mobile Capture, which as such a hot topic at its recent Transform event, seems in certain violation of at least one Mitek patent. Not sure, if USAA would then try to enforce similar patents.

Mitek CEO James DiBello responded to the USAA claims, "We believe these claims are without merit and we intend to vigorously defend our intellectual property rights, as necessary."

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