(UPDATED December 30, 2011)
We thought it was interesting when we read that PIEtech, Inc., a company in Powhatan, Virginia, actually asked to be a defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit that involved one of its clients.
In August, PIEtech's competitor (and neighbor in Richmond, Virginia) Wealthcare Capital Management, sued the large Wall Street firm UBS Financial for infringement of patents for a “Method and System for Financial Advising”. Both patents were issued last summer.
PIEtech's CEO Bob Curtis believed that Wealthcare's real target was its own MoneyGuidePro software, and that Wealthcare targeted UBS instead in order to "make a bigger PR splash." So PIEtech requested to join the lawsuit in early November via a motion to intervene.
Well, they have now gotten their wish: they were allowed to join the lawsuit.
However, PIEtech didn't get as big a piece of pie as they wanted. Wealthcare requested that the judge limit PIEtech's involvement to include only UBS's use of the MoneyGuidePro software in lieu of dragging all of PIEtech's clients into the fray, which would make the case much more complicated and cumbersome. The judge sided with Wealthcare.
PIEtech plans to challenge the validity of the patents on the argument that the patents seem to cover the basic process that most financial planners use - a process that it contends can't be patented.
And though other PIEtech clients that use the MoneyGuidePro software would seem to be good targets for further lawsuits, Wealthcare CEO Loeper says it's not likely that they will be sued at this time.
In a December 2011 phone conversation with Mr. Loeper – who read our blog and asked us to clarify a few issues – he pointed out that his company "never objected to PIEtech joining the case" and recognized that they indemnify their clients as part of their agreement. However, he is glad that the judge also objected to bringing "the rest of the industry" into the current litigation.