RSA filed a lawsuit against Apple and Visa over the weekend claiming the iPhone maker’s Apple Pay feature infringes on patents it owns. The company says it holds 13 patents covering Apple Pay technology, and hasn’t been able to get Apple or Visa to pay for licensing.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware and states that RSA’s SecurID patents cover secure one-time financial transaction tokens, biometric identification, and other authentication systems for smartphones. The company drew a fairly detailed image of Apple Pay with its patent list.
Apple Pay is a system that lets users complete credit card transactions with their iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad while keeping their actual card number secure. Users can hold their device near payment terminals in stores to initiate payment, to tap an on-screen button for online payments.
RSA says it participated in several meetings with Visa in 2010 about collaborating on the cardless payment system, according to the New York Times. Visa signed a 10-year nondisclosure agreement, but walked away from the discussions after its own engineers had been fully briefed on how RSA’s SecurID system worked.
Fast forward to 2013, and Visa starts working on Apple Pay with Apple, American Express, and MasterCard. Apple Pay officially launched in 2014 and iPhone owners have been tapping payment terminals in stores ever since.
Apple apparently wasn’t ever involved in discussions with RSA SecurID, and never responded to the company’s requests to license its payment technology.
RSA, Patents, and Lawsuits
RSA’s lawsuit isn’t a big surprise considering it hasn’t had any luck licensing its secure payment tech to bigger companies. Since that hasn’t worked out so far, the company is working on its own Apple Pay-like device while pursuing its litigation. If its device is something users need to carry in addition to their smartphone, maybe RSA SecurID should stick with lawsuits because consumers won’t want yet another payment system in their pocket.
RSA is owned by Dell, and its SecurID technology is commonly used in systems where two-factor authentication is required. Corporate controlled secure logins, for example, often rely on RSA SecurID key fobs to generate one-use token numbers users need to access their accounts.
RSA is being represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which is the same law firm that represented Samsung for part of its patent infringement lawsuit battle with Apple. Odds are RSA’s lawsuit won’t reach the same epic level as the Apple versus Samsung fight has, but odds are there will be some money exchanging hands before the case wraps up.