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iMoney Patent and Other Digital Wallet Patent Battles

By Preetam Kaushik

NEW YORK (MainStreet)--If you thought the mobile patent wars had reached a crescendo with the Apple v. Samsung battle over design patents, think again. With digital payments shifting to the mobile, the patent battleground may just have shifted to innovations in the field of digital wallets.

Do No Evil

For a change, it is Google that's been made out as the bad guy. In 2011 it was hit by a lawsuit by PayPal, whose honchos were angered that two of its top executives jumped ship to head to Google Wallet. PayPal claimed trade secrets were stolen and that the ex-employees violated their terms of employment by engaging in discussions with Google while still being at Paypal.

Google was also sued in the same year by Peter Sprogis, CEO of Molo Rewards, a loyalty start-up which claimed that its NFC-based innovations were infringed upon by Google. This was preceded by a patent litigation filed by E-Micro against Google where interestingly the situation was resolved when E-Micro's mobile payments patent portfolio was acquired by Google for an undisclosed sum, and the lawsuit withdrawn.

Unfortunately for Google, its wallet has not been the runaway success like some of its other products. It's blocked on Verizon, AT&T, and T-mobile phones and after investing a rumored $300 million in digital wallet technologies, Google CEO Larry Page recently replaced the ex-Paypal executive heading the business, replacing him with a Google insider.

However, as Google's shown in social media, the giant does not give up easily, especially on a market that is estimated by Forrest Research to reach $90 billion by 2017. "Payments are a big part of what people do everyday, and we're committed to making them easier for everyone," says Google spokesman Nate Tyler.

Pay for Portfolio

The E-Micro example underlines the growing importance mainstream investors must assign to the value of patent portfolios held by a company. Leading patent attorney Roman Tsibulevskiy of Goldstein Patent Law, a firm specializing in providing custom IP strategies to both large corporations and individuals, observed after the Samsung judgment that "this and other legal patent battles bolster the claim about the value of patents."