Security technology giants battle over patent claims

By Dee Thompson | Dec 19, 2016

Securus has claimed victory in a recent win before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, but rival GTL maintains it wasn't a win at all.

DALLAS: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board announced on Dec. 2 that it would uphold a patent filed by Securus Technologies, and that the challenge filed by rival company Global Tel*Link (GTL) was invalid. GTL maintains, however, that Securus only won a partial victory.

The patent (U. S. Patent No. 7,494,061 B2) that Securus maintains held up to the challenge from GTL, relates to biometric identity verification monitoring devices used in correctional facilities. According to a summary of the patent, “The term "biometrics" refers to technologies that measure and analyze human characteristics for authentication.”

Both GTL and Securus are leaders in the corrections industry. GTL, founded in 1980, started out offering telecommunications solutions and has since expanded its products and services to include a number of technological products to correctional facilities, such as investigative technologies, video visitation, electronic debit, payment services, kiosks, etc.

Both GTL and Securus have filed a number of patents over the years. Securus claims that out of 23 patents which have been challenged, only 4 have been completely invalidated by GTL. GTL maintains that claim is a distortion, that they have been successful at challenging the quality of the patents, because each patent consists of a number of parts. GTL has looked at 24 patents over the years and challenged them for various reasons, looking at each of the claims inside each patent.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)can reject all of the claims or just a few of the claims.

According to Tim Skaja, Senior Vice President of Product Management and Service Delivery at GTL, when it comes to Securus, “The quantity really isn’t the issue. It’s the quality of them. How good are the patents? Are they even patentable? Is it something that should have been a patent to begin with? Was it a novel idea? Was it their idea?”

Skaja told the Southeast Texas Record, “This has been going on for several years. Securus is the first to basically start suing for patent infringements. They sued us. We sued them. Securus has a long history in the market of suing and setting with their competitors -- others in the market, previous companies as well. They use their patents to intimidate the competition.”

Patent No. 7,494,061 B2 is the latest example of what GTL sees as a flawed patent. Skaja won’t comment on the specifics of why the biometric device patent didn’t measure up, but maintains that Securus’s claims regarding it are misleading. “They say they’ve won. There were 25 claims, and fourteen of them were denied and thrown out. So the quality of their patent was only half good.Many of the claims inside their patent were thrown out. So their patent didn’t stand up to the test as a whole.”

GTL itself has filed many new patents. They focus on technologies in their market. Skaja explains, “Before we submit them we look at the same review process as if we were to defend them, to see if they hold up. Each part of the patent should be unique and the way it’s put together should be unique.”

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