Around 2001, DataTreasury ran out of money and had to lay off most of its staff. For most startups, that would have been the end of the story. But DataTreasury had an ace in the hole: a portfolio of broad patents. One of them covered the concept of attaching a scanner (an “imaging subsystem for capturing the documents”) to a server (a “central data processing subsystem”) via a “communication network.”
It’s hard to see how anyone could build a digital check-clearing system without infringing this patent.