December 8, 2010 - Last year, Western Union Co. won a $16.4 million verdict against MoneyGram in a patent lawsuit over a method of transferring money via telephone. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reversed that ruling and found the Western Union patents invalid based on obviousness.
The patents allow a customer to call a financial institution and store details of a money, then complete the transaction at a retail location without using forms. However, the CAFC found that similar business method inventions were in existence as long ago as 1997 and belonged to a company that Western Union later bought.
In their decision, a three-judge panel of the CAFC wrote, “We fail to see how it would have been difficult for a person of ordinary skill in the art to integrate an electronic transaction device that was available from Western Union itself into a well-known money transfer system that was also owned by Western Union at the time of the invention.”
The case before the CAFC is Western Union Co. v. MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc., 2010-1080 and 2010-1210, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington), and the earlier case is Western Union Co. v. MoneyGram International Inc., 07cv372, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).