First victory: Getting sued?

A Powhatan financial software developer made the unusual move last month of asking to be made a defendant in a federal patent infringement lawsuit filed by its downtown rival.

PIEtech got what it wanted, and now the fight it is on.

“We are officially part of the lawsuit,” said PIEtech chief executive Bob Curtis. “So it us versus them.”

The “them” in this case is downtown-based Wealthcare Capital Management, which sued PIEtech client UBS Financial in August for allegedly infringing on two patents issued this summer.

Wealthcare’s patents for “Method and System for Financial Advising” involve a process of gathering information from clients, including their background and financial goals, plugging that information into a software program and analyzing the results to recommend a wealth management plan.

Curtis has argued that the patents appear to cover the same basic process that most financial planners use.

Curtis also maintains that Wealthcare’s real beef is not with UBS, but with UBS’s use of PIEtech’s main product, a software system called MoneyGuidePro.

That product directly competes with Wealthcare’s Financeware product.

Curtis has said Wealthcare sued UBS, rather than his company, to make a bigger PR splash. Despite not being initially sued, PIEtech asked to join the case to bring to light the true fight.

Wealthcare chief executive David Loeper said he is glad PIEtech is now part of the case.

“I’m quite happy that [PIEtech] is involved in this case, because I think it’s going to set the record straight,” said Loeper.

“We have what we think is sound evidence of UBS’s infringement and PIE is obviously contributing to that,” Loeper said.

Barring a settlement, the case will now likely begin a long road that will push the case into 2013.

PIEtech’s lawyers have called into question the validity of the patents, their main argument being that the process of financial planning can’t be patented.

This all raises the question: Are other PIEtech clients that use MoneyGuidePro potentially infringing on the patent?

“It’s quite possible there are other [PIEtech clients] that are infringing,” Loeper said.

Loeper said it’s not likely his firm will sue any other PIEtech clients at this time, although he did have some advice for any that are fearful of getting hit with a similar suit.

“If any firm is concerned, I would suggest [PIEtech clients] should contact them about the risk,” Loeper said. “Or they could reach out to us.”

Michael Schwartz is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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