Well-known non-practicing entity Intellectual Ventures has been fairly quiet on the litigation front, particularly as compared to other high-profile NPEs.  And when IV has filed suits, it has generally targeted technology companies, such as semiconductor manufacturers, handset makers, or telecom service providers.  But earlier this week, IV branched out into new territory, suing the First National Bank of Omaha in Nebraska district court and accusing the bank of infringing several patents (including some potentially standard-essential patents).

Complaint: [IV v First Natl Bank of Omaha]

IV’s complaint accuses First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO) of infringing five patents:

For three of these patents, IV’s allegations of infringement specifically point to FNBO’s systems (e.g., its online banking system and a specialized technology service) that comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).  These are standards related to encryption/cryptography (among other things) which were promulgated by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC).  For the other two patents (the ‘694 & ‘666 patents), it’s not clear whether IV is claiming infringement based on compliance with PCI-DSS.  IV is not seeking an injunction (or even a future, ongoing royalty), but has limited its claims to damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.

It’s not clear whether there are any licensing/non-enforcement obligations with respect to these patents.  On its website, the PCI Security Standards Council posts a license agreement that includes a covenant not to assert PCI standard-essential patents against PCI members or licensees.  It appears that through this agreement, developers and licensees of PCI SSC standards such as PCI-DSS generally agree not to bring patent infringement claims on PCI standard-essential patents.  But from a quick look at the PTO’s assignment database, it looks like some of IV’s asserted patents are well-traveled — having previously been owned by companies such as Mitre Corp., Veridian Information Solutions, General Dynamics, Verifides Technology Corp., Entegrity, Bellsouth, and AT&T — so there is certainly the potentially that the PCI SSC-related covenant not to sue could come into play should this litigation proceed along far enough.