Bank of America has continued its relentless pursuit of know-how patents amid the upheaval attributable to the pandemic.
The corporate obtained 184 patent functions accepted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Workplace within the first half of 2020 — a 20% enhance over the identical interval final yr — although 85% of its staff have been working from dwelling. It utilized for 415 patents throughout that point, protecting cash switch, invoice funds, ATM transaction pre-staging, use of augmented actuality for examine verification, and authentication know-how that does not require a card or perhaps a system.
All informed, Bank of America has utilized for or been granted 4,277 patents.
“These numbers demonstrate our unmatched commitment to innovation,” Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s chief operations and know-how officer, stated in a press launch. “Simply put, it is part of everyone’s job who works here.”
It’s a curious factor to boast about. Patents are as controversial as they’re feel-good. Corporations get patents to guard their concepts and their mental property, however constructing a stockpile of patents throughout a spectrum of economic companies areas may really feel like an effort to dam others from innovating, and makes an attempt to implement these patents may be perceived as patent trolling.
It could possibly be an effort to protect itself from fintech rivals. Proudly owning a portfolio of associated patents may guard Bank of America from infringement by fintechs.
John Cotter, a associate at Okay&L Gates in Boston who has been concerned in quite a lot of patent litigation tied to the monetary companies business, stated BofA has each proper to pursue patents however that these patents may be challenged in court docket.
“A traditional approach is to get patents to give you protection against competitors,” in response to Cotter, who stated he’s unfamiliar with the patents Bank of America holds. “It may even be that you’ve got an important know-how lead and also you need to get patent protection to maintain others out of the market. That is completely truthful. That is what patenting is about: exclusivity. It may appear anti-competitive, however it’s a constitutional proper that has existed for a number of hundred years. Getting good patents is an affordable technique for many corporations in any business.”
Defending these patents can get tough.
“Every patent issued is very specific, and there’s absolutely no doubt about it that mistakes get made, some patents get through that may not be valid in the long run, when they’re subjected to litigation either in court or in the patent office’s appeal board,” Cotter stated. “It’s an imperfect system, and there’s a lot of expense and time spent trying to deal with those imperfections.”
Katherine Dintenfass, senior vice chairman of digital banking and the second-leading patent holder at Bank of America, stated its patent work is customer-driven. “We hear feedback from our customers day in and day out on what could be better,” she stated.
One thought got here when she was engaged on property planning companies with clients.
“As you can imagine, it is such an emotional time in their lives, but also can be very financially challenging,” Dintenfass stated. “They needed a lot of handholding because of how stressed they were throughout the process.”
Clients stated they needed to make it simpler to go issues on to their family members. So Dintenfass helped create an augmented-reality-image validation system.
“Then it’s not as charged a conversation,” she stated. “It’s very basic. ‘Hey, I know you love this painting. Let’s talk about how I would give that to you later on.’”
The property planner can present the inheritor the merchandise in query, and the inheritor can superimpose it on a wall to see if it’s one thing she or he has house for or needs.
“That allows us to support the level of conversation that we want to have between our specialists and our clients as if they were in the same physical space, but without the requirement to actually be in the same physical space,” Dintenfass stated. “Using augmented reality, we can have a much richer experience, without the logistical challenges associated with being in the same physical location.”
Dintenfass has labored on a number of patents with Cameron Wadley, chief working officer for applied sciences with which customers, small-business homeowners and wealth administration purchasers work together. One they obtained this yr is known as “System for Predictive Usage of Resources.” It’s partially used at the moment as a part of the digital assistant Erica’s “Forecast my Balance” functionality. It predicts future balances primarily based on historic spending patterns and makes educated funds suggestions.
A number of fintechs already predict future balances primarily based on historic patterns. Easy was one of many first in 2012. What’s totally different on this patent, in response to Bank of America, is that the logic within the patent encompasses confirmed upcoming invoice funds, seasonal funds primarily based on transaction historical past, anticipated discretionary spending primarily based on cash-flow patterns, and financial savings and investments earmarked for prioritized life occasions.
“Predictive spending isn’t new, but the level of personalized insights to support overall financial wellness is,” an organization spokesman stated.
One other invention Dintenfass and Wadley collaborated on and patented is “Person-to-Person Network Architecture for Secure Authorization and Approval.” This enables for useful resource transfers between two folks by way of authenticated community session.
Most of the patented innovations have been included into Erica, Wadley stated.
How do they determine when one thing is patentable versus one thing that everybody’s attempting to do?
Dintenfass stated the litmus take a look at is whether or not it’s one thing clients need and wish.
“Sometimes we do that through just looking at the data: What is their behavior telling us?” she stated. “But a lot of times it’s dovetailing that with some of the meaningful conversations that we have with them, and by getting into their spaces, their everyday lives, seeing how they use the technology using design-thinking processes.”
Dintenfass and Wadley depend on the corporate’s legal professionals to make sure nobody else is already doing the identical factor.
“They will help us better determine whether there is prior art involved, whether there’s risk of infringing on someone else,” Wadley stated. “And in those cases, of course, we’re going to be responsible and steer clear.”
The 2 say they’ve little interest in patent trolling.
“We’re not patenting for patents’ sake,” Dintenfass stated. “We really are trying to make sure that we’re grounded in what the customer needs and wants are, and then trying to find innovative ways to solve those. And when they are innovative, we want to patent it so that we have that protection as we bring some of these capabilities forward. But we are not going to just go ahead and patent something because we want to take a stance of blocking someone else or saying, this is a space that we want to mine for licensing.”
“The reason we would be protective of the patents that we’ve secured is really to make sure that we don’t disrupt the experiences that we’ve looked to create for our client base,” Wadley stated. “However we’re not likely in it to maximise patents. We actually simply need to proceed to cut back friction, make issues simpler for our purchasers and protect a continuity of expertise for them. And that is the explanation that patenting our concepts is essential and the best way that we take into consideration the method.
Dintenfass has at all times been inquisitive. When she was a baby, she tried to take aside the household tv as a result of she needed to see what was within the field.
“That is what I like doing,” she stated. “I love understanding what is in people’s mindsets, what drives people’s behavior. How do they articulate those solutions that they may not know that they want today, but will really help them in the future?”
Wadley stated an curiosity in downside fixing led him to engineering as an undergraduate self-discipline, then into info know-how and his first full-time job in monetary companies.
“I stood out as someone who was proficient in solving technology problems, but I could also speak kitchen English,” he stated. “So in sure respects I used to be bilingual, and I may clarify difficult ideas to individuals who did not have that familiarity.
Wadley and Dintenfass have needed to collaborate just about for the reason that pandemic began.
They are saying there are not any particular instruments which have helped.
“We’re largely utilizing capabilities that quite a lot of different organizations are utilizing,” Wadley stated. “We’re jumping on Skype, we’re having phone calls, we’re sending emails. What’s most important is that we are accessible and that we’re in a position to be able to compare notes on, Hey, I had this idea, do you think that has merit? Or what if we were to look at it from a different perspective to identify a different use case? Despite the fact that Katherine and I are in different states and both working from our living room, it hasn’t changed the thought process or the way that we would reach out to each other to help solve problems.”
Each juggle baby care duties with working from dwelling.
Dintenfass and her partner have a toddler. “I think he may have inherited my inquisitive spirit,” she stated. “He tried to take apart one of our old telephones the other day.”
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