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Insurers Rush To License Katz Call Center Technology

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Dozens of companies have agreed to pay royalties to a call center technology pioneer to resolve a dispute about patents.

The list of companies that announced plans today to buy licenses from the patent holder’s firm, Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P., Los Angeles, include Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass.; Symetra Life Insurance Company, Bellevue, Wash.; WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis; and Express Scripts Inc., St. Louis.

MassMutual and Symetra are paying for licenses for patents covering delivery of financial services customer service through live agents and automated systems.

WellPoint is paying for a license for patents covering delivery of health care customer service through a combination of automated systems and live agents, according to Ronald A. Katz Technology.

Express Scripts is paying for license for patents covering delivery of prescription refill services through automated systems.

The price of the licenses and other terms were not disclosed.

Representatives for Ronald Katz say he created Telecredit Inc., a company that operated one of the first computerized call centers, in 1961.

Later, Katz co-invented and patented call center technology now used by a subsidiary of First Data Corp., Greenwood Village, Colo., Katz representatives say.

Katz notes in his statements that he believes his patents cover a great deal of call center technology in North America, including most of the systems now used to handle prescription refills.