Software firms bury the hatchet

Two rival financial software firms – both based in Richmond – are no longer battling in court.

Downtown-based Wealthcare Capital Management said Thursday that it had settled its lawsuit with Powhatan competitor PIEtech and banking giant UBS Financial in a patent infringement case that questioned the definition of the act of financial planning.

The suit, filed by Wealthcare against UBS in New York federal court in August 2011, claimed that the financial conglomerate’s computerized financial advising system, which used PIEtech’s main software product, infringed on two patents Wealthcare received that year.

David Loeper

David Loeper

Wealthcare chief executive David Loeper said he’s glad to see the case put to rest.

“We said from the very beginning we just want to set the record straight,” Loeper said. “It’s very comforting to have our property rights respected and put this behind us so we can compete on the basis of what intellectual property we actually own.”

The terms and conditions of the settlement are confidential. Neither side would comment on any details of the agreement, including whether the settlement involved PIEtech paying Wealthcare.

PIEtech, which wasn’t named in the initial suit, said publicly last year that Wealthcare’s real beef was not with UBS but with UBS’s use of PIEtech’s MoneyGuidePro software. That product competes directly with Wealthcare’s Financeware.

Bob Curtis

Bob Curtis

PIEtech chief executive Bob Curtis claimed at the time that Wealthcare sued UBS, rather than his company, to make a bigger splash. In a highly unusual legal maneuver, PIEtech asked to be named as a defendant in the case so it could fight the suit for its client UBS.

Curtis argued at the time that Wealthcare’s patents appear to cover the same basic process that most financial planners use.

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

Once it was let into the case, PIEtech’s lawyers called into question the validity of Wealthcare’s patents. They argued that the process of financial planning couldn’t be patented.

The settlement makes any such argument moot.

“It was claimed that our two patents were invalid,” Loeper said Thursday. “There were claims that every financial planner would be sued and that we were attempting to own financial planning.

“PIEtech is free to do business. UBS is free to do business. All those claims were completely erroneous.”

Curtis on Thursday said only that PIEtech was “happy with the resolution. I wish we had never had it, but we’re back to business as usual.”

Loeper reiterated that his company also wasn’t happy to have to go to court.

“We’re not a litigious firm,” Loeper said. “This is the only lawsuit we’ve ever been involved in.”

Headquartered at 600 E. Main St., Wealthcare offers financial planning services in addition to selling and licensing its processes and software.

PIEtech, headquartered just off Anderson Highway in Powhatan, recently released a new version of its MoneyGuidePro software. It does not offer financial planning services.

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Sharon Vandenbergh
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Congratulations David.

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