Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union filed a preemptive lawsuit in federal court April 19 against a local patent troll that has threatened to sue the $4 billion corporate credit union on behalf of an anonymous patent holder for patent infringement on electronic processing technologies.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, says IP Navigation Group LLC, a Marshall, Texas-based firm that bills itself as a “leading global intellectual property advisory,” solicited Dallas-based Catalyst to enter into license agreements on behalf of an unnamed patent holder, referred to as John Doe, or face being sued for patent infringement.

The Eastern District of Texas is known as a friendly venue for patent-infringement suits and is where DataTreasury, the local holder of various Check 21 patents, has sued dozens of the nation's biggest banks, extracting hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees.

IPNavigation, also known as IPNav, bills its “expertise in monetizing patents” and has been involved in dozens of patent-infringement cases. In one recent case, another company that received a similar solicitation for licensing, Renaissance Learning, also has petitioned the federal court for a preemptive order barring IPNav’s threats of litigation.

In a March 27 letter to Catalyst CEO Kathy Garner, IPNav claims “an analysis of your products shows that your company makes, uses, or sells products or services that would benefit from a license to our client’s patents.”

The letter invites Catalyst to sign a confidentiality agreement and to refrain from suing the unnamed patent holder. “At our first meeting we intend to identify specific patents and provide information outlining the basis for the infringement claims against your products and services,” said the letter, which does not identity the patents in dispute or the patent holder.

“By virtue of these allegations,” says the corporate in its suit, “Catalyst has a reasonable apprehension that IPNav and/or Doe will file suit against Catalyst.”

Catalyst, which processes electronic transactions for 1,391 credit unions and 41 credit union service organizations, has asked the federal court for an order declaring the corporate has not infringed on any of the anonymous holder’s patents and permanently enjoin IPNav and the anonymous holder from issuing further threats of legal action.

Officials for IPNav did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

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