It was announced today that 30 of the nation’s largest and technically sophisticated companies in the retail industry, allied health care industry, insurance industry, hospitality industry, energy/utility industry, and financial services industry have purchased licenses under the patent portfolio held by Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P. and licensed through A2D, L.P.
These separate licenses cover services offered by each of the companies in specific fields of use such as “Automated Health Care Services”, “Energy and Utility Services”, “Product/Service Support” and “Financial Services Call Processing”. These services, including customer service and prescription refill services are delivered through automated systems as well as the combination of automated systems and live agents. Other terms of the licenses were not disclosed.
The companies include:
The technologies in the licensed patents were invented by Ronald A. Katz. His pioneering efforts created one of the first, if not the first, inbound computerized call centers in 1961 when he formed Telecredit, Inc., the nation’s first on-line real time credit and check cashing authorization system. He was awarded a patent as co-inventor of that technology. In the mid 1980s, Mr. Katz started work on these interactive call processing patents. Within a few years, he entered into a joint venture with American Express to implement the technologies on an unprecedented scale, drawing up plans for ten thousand voice response ports to be located in the center of the United States. By 1989, the company that was his brainchild had become “Call Interactive” a joint venture between American Express Information Services Company and AT&T. This company, in its various forms, has been practicing the technologies found in this group of patents continuously since 1988. Today, the company is known as First Data Voice Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Data Corporation.
The patents held by Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P., cover a wide range of interactive technology including automated forms of: customer service, securities trading, merchandising, prepaid services, prescription refill service, telephone conferences, registration, home shopping, as well as functions involved in securing information from databases by telephone, interactive cable transactions, and various other uses of toll free and local numbers.
“It is extremely important to us that all Progress Energy customers are able reach us any time, night or day, to report an outage or receive information from us. We have added call centers and improved all of our call handling technologies in terms of both capacity and sophistication in order to ensure that this is the case. The technologies in this portfolio of patents are an important part of these call processing improvements,” said Mike Hughes, spokesperson for Progress Energy, Inc.
"We want to be available to our customers 24/7 and with toll free numbers like 888-464-7868, account holders can reach us, any time, night or day. Through a sophisticated combination of quick automated services and carefully trained agents who are available to handle issues around the clock, callers can report claims, get account information or change their PIN– easily and swiftly. The technologies in this portfolio of patents have significantly helped us implement this type of call processing which keeps us close to our customers," said Steve Van Wyk, Chief Information Officer, ING North America Insurance Corp.
"Zions Bancorporation has affiliate banks located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington offering their customers the highest level of customer service through live consultation with highly trained agents and 24 hour access to account information via automated phone services. The technology in these patents facilitates these customer service processes," said Jeff S. Newman, Zions Management Services Company.
“Many of our leading pharmacies such as Acme, bigg’s, Cub, Osco, Savon, Shop ‘n Save, and Supervalu offer “Express Prescription Refill” services or “EASYFILL” services over the phone, which utilize many of the inventions in this portfolio of patents. Customers can, for example, dial in 24 hours a day, enter their prescription number and the last four digits of their phone number in order to quickly request a refill of their prescription. This is an important group of patents,” said Haley Meyer, Corporate Communications, SUPERVALU INC.
Ronald A. Katz stated, “As just one example of the use of this portfolio, we estimate that there are over one billion automated prescription refill requests being processed over the phone each year in North America alone, virtually all of which utilize technology claimed in the Katz patents. We welcome this extraordinary group of companies to the large number of companies with demonstrated intellectual property expertise who have purchased licenses under this portfolio in order to cover the automated call processing used in their own customer support operations.”
There are over 200 companies with rights under this portfolio, including over 25 energy and utility companies. Companies with license rights under this portfolio include: Advanta Corp., Alltel Corporation, American Century, American Express, Automatic Data Processing, Inc., AT&T Corp., Bank of America Corporation, BB&T Corporation, Capital One Services, Inc., Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, Certegy, Inc., Dell Inc., Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc., Delta Air Lines, Inc., Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P., Equifax, Inc., Excel Communications, Inc., First Data Corporation, First National Bank of Omaha, First Tennessee National Corporation, The Gallup Organization, Hewlett-Packard Company, Home Shopping Network, Inc., Household International, Inc., HSBC Bank USA, International Business Machines (IBM), KeyCorp, LaSalle Bank Corporation, M&T Bank Corporation, Marriott International, Inc., MCI, Inc., Mediacom Communications Corporation, Mellon Financial Corporation, Merck & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., Metris Companies, Inc., Microsoft, MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., Nationwide, OppenheimerFunds, Inc., People’s Bank, PetMed Express, Inc., The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., Principal Financial Group, Inc., Prudential Financial, Inc., QVC, Inc., Sears, Roebuck and Co., Shop At Home, Inc., Sprint Corporation, SouthTrust Bank, Sunoco, Inc., Synovus, SunTrust Banks, Inc., Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., The Vanguard Group, Inc., Verizon California, Inc. and its affiliates, Wachovia Corporation, and Wells Fargo & Company.