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Catalyst files preemptive patent lawsuit
SHERMAN, Texas (4/23/12)--Catalyst Corporate FCU has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Texas, seeking a declaratory judgment that it has not infringed on any processing patents, after it received a letter from a company representing an unknown "John Doe" patent holder threatening Catalyst with a lawsuit if it did not sign a confidentiality agreement.

Plano, Texas-based Catalyst filed the pre-emptive strike in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division. In the complaint, Catalyst said it received a letter and a "Proposal to Negotiate Patent License" on March  27 from IP Navigation Group,  also known as IPNav, a Dallas-based company that bills itself as a "leading global intellectual property advisory firm" that has "expertise in monetizing patents."

According to the complaint filed, IPNav claims that it focuses on "turning intangible assets into tangible profits" with its "monetization solutions," and that it "employs an aggressive approach to monetizing patents, which has resulted in the filing and litigating of a large number of patent infringement lawsuits."

The letter to Catalyst Corporate noted that an "analysis of your products shows that your company makes, uses, or sells products or services that would benefit from a license to [Doe's] patents." It demanded Catalyst sign a confidentiality agreement "as a predicate to IPNav identifying 'specific patents and provid[ing] information outlining the basis for the infringement claims against your products or services.'"

Catalyst claims the letter indicates that IPNav and Doe "are prepared to sue if Catalyst does not agree to their terms." The terms include provisions that would bar Catalyst from suing the firm, but not barring IPNav or Doe from filing a patent infringement lawsuit.

"Catalyst has been placed in the untenable position of being forced to choose between waiving its legal rights pursuant to the terms of the agreement or subjecting itself to an ongoing threat of litigation and unspecified allegations of infringement directed at the core of Catalyst's business. Catalyst refuses to make such a choice and, instead, asks this court to declare Catalyst's legal rights now in its home court."

The suit seeks a declaration that Catalyst "has not infringed and is not infringing, directly or indirectly, any valid claims of the asserted patents" and an order permanently enjoining IPNav, Doe, and their representatives from asserting that the corporate infringed on any valid patent claim.

Advances in technologies and processes such as remote deposit capture technology, payments processing, and online and mobile banking technologies have been targets of several patent infringement lawsuits. Credit unions and banks using both third-party service providers and in-house processes for their new technologies have been  threatened with litigation as a result.

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