Mr. Ronald A. Katz

Hero of Military Medicine Ambassador Honoree

Creation, innovation and caring are some of the key hallmarks of Ronald A. Katz’s business and personal life. Over the last five decades, this unique combination of inventor and businessman has been acclaimed for his insight into the application of technology to real world problems, and for his skills in business negotiation, strategy development, patent licensing, and marketing and sales.  As a technology visionary, he has created ways for both consumers and businesses to use friendly, yet technically sophisticated, services to increase the security of transactions, make communications more efficient, and reduce costs.

In 1961, at the age of 24, Ronald A. Katz and partner Robert N. Goldman formed a company called Telecredit, Inc., the nation's first on-line real time credit and check cashing authorization service, based on a system they subsequently patented.  Telecredit, under the guidance of Mr. Katz, would break new ground by inventing and implementing a wide variety of important technologies, methods and systems.  Working with Mr. Goldman and the Telecredit team, Mr. Katz and his colleagues were the pioneers who created and deployed the earliest forms of various technologies that we all rely on today for real-time fraud control in the financial services industry and other industries.  In the early 1960s, they created revolutionary database and communications technology that enabled retailers to have automated access to information about a check writer’s habits - such as the number of checks written per week, driver’s license information and any history of writing bad checks. Telecredit gave retailers, for the first time, the ability to quickly verify whether a check was likely good or suspect. Further, they invented and implemented the first automated check cashing insurance system (underwritten by an insurance company), which provided protection to retailers on the bulk of checks presented by customers.

Specific breakthroughs that Telecredit achieved while Ron Katz was at the helm included: implementing the first commercial integration of computers and telephones to track and stop retail fraud, developing the first read/write magnetic stripe card technology that was ultimately adopted by all of the early ATM manufactures, creating the first Point of Sale (POS) credit authorization terminal with updatable remote database access, deploying the first guaranteed bank check cashing card to give retailers additional confidence in verified transactions as well as the first check cashing card accepted by a wide range of retailers for use by consumers in speeding up checkout in a safe and secure manner, and operating what is believed to have been the first call center to use automated computer technology to assist agents in completing calls. Telecredit, a publically traded company, was acquired by Equifax in 1990, and was later spun off, along with certain other Equifax operations, into what became the company known today as Certegy Inc.

In the late 1970's, Ron Katz pioneered the development of new alternative dispute resolution techniques. He is widely credited as the creative force behind the nation's first "mini-trial."  Mr. Katz served as the Director of the UCLA Minitrial experimental program that was sponsored by the UCLA School of Law and Graduate School of Management in cooperation with the Center for Public Resources.  He later served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

Ron Katz was a guest lecturer at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business in the field of negotiations during the years 1979 - 1991.  He has been described as "a leading exponent of intellectual property law reform" and is the author of a speech presented at the University of Houston Intellectual Property Program in 1994 entitled "A Businessman's View on Patents and Patent Litigation."

In 1981, Ron Katz and Mr. Goldman formed Light Signatures, Inc., through which they developed and patented technology that defines the leading edge of counterfeit prevention systems.  Mr. Katz and Mr. Goldman sold the company and its technology to Telecredit, Inc. in 1985.

In the mid 1980's, Ron Katz began inventing new forms of communication between computers and telephones, now focusing on emerging automated telephone interfaces such as voice response and other technologies.  He began applying for patents on systems and methods he had created which allowed efficient, secure and low cost transactions.  Generally, the technologies relate to interactive telephonic systems and methods for accumulating and processing caller data provided automatically and in response to pre-recorded voice cues.  The issued patents describe inventions that are applicable to a variety of interactive technology including automated forms of: customer service, prescription refill services, securities trading, merchandising, prepaid services, 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.  The patented technologies were the cornerstone of a huge interactive call processing system implemented in 1988 by FDR Interactive Technologies (“FDRIT”), which subsequently became Call Interactive, a unit of First Data Corporation, then an affiliate of American Express and AT&T Corp.  During this time, Ron Katz served as a senior executive officer of FDRIT and Vice Chairman of American Express Information Services Corporation, one of the partners in Call Interactive.

In 1994, Mr. Katz formed Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P.  Shortly thereafter, his newly formed company purchased back the portfolio of his patents that were then owned by First Data Corporation (the former American Express Information Services Corporation).  Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P. has been licensing this portfolio worldwide for over 15 years and has almost 300 licensees including some of the largest companies in the United States. These companies are recognized for their technical sophistication and intellectual property acumen in their own right.  For example, companies with license rights under the Katz telecommunications patent portfolio include: AT&T Inc. Bank of America Corporation, General Electric Company, International Business Machines (IBM), Mellon Financial Corporation, Merck & Co., Prudential Financial, Inc., Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.

On November 7th, 2007, Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P. announced 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 had  all purchased licenses under the Katz patent portfolio. 

Currently, Ron Katz holds more than 80 patents, primarily in the fields of telecommunication and computing technology. Evan Schwartz, in his 2004 book entitled Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives Today's World-Class Inventors (Harvard Business School Press) featured Mr. Katz and stated, “He has quietly become the most financially successful inventor in history.” Bruce Berman, in his 2006 book entitled Making Innovation Pay (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), describes Mr. Katz as “An American pioneer on the knowledge frontier.” Mr. Katz gave the Keynote Address at the 2005 Spring Meeting of the Licensing Executives Society, a professional society comprised of over 6,000 members engaged in the transfer, use, development, manufacture and marketing of intellectual property.  The President and Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc. stated that “it is probably better to think of Katz as one of the premiere American inventors who has been able to monetize his inventions by bundling his rights into a portfolio that he licenses to those who are using technologies that cover his innovation.”

Ron Katz graduated from UCLA in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.  He has served as a member of the Board of Managers of the Westside YMCA, an officer and member of the Board of Directors of the UCLA Alumni Association and an officer and member of the Board of trustees of the UCLA Foundation.  He served as a member of the UCLA Medical Center Board of Advisors.  In 1994, Mr. Katz was named to serve as a member of the Los Angeles Police Community Advisory Board. In 2005 Mr. Katz was named a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council in Los Angeles. 

In 2002, after having created and supported a number of charitable endeavors, Ron Katz and his late wife, Madelyn Rae Guttleman Katz, started the “Ron and Madelyn Katz Family Foundation” which has made significant donations to more than 30 charitable organizations.  In particular, at UCLA, they created the Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music and the Madelyn Rae Katz Endowed Chair in Palliative Medicine as well as funding the construction of "Maddie's Room," the surgical intervention waiting room at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. 

In 2007, the Katz Family Foundation established and funded what may have been their most important philanthropic achievement to-date: Operation Mend.  This one-of-a-kind partnership between the UCLA Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center — the military's main hospital for burn patients — is a program which provides reconstructive surgery at UCLA to members of the military who've been severely disfigured in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In July 2009, Modern Medicine published an article about Operation Mend in which Christopher Crisera, M.D., surgeon and assistant professor of surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UCLA, stated: "Anybody would jump at the opportunity to be involved in a program like this once you see the horrifically injured young men and women. Often, they have a lot of self-consciousness and anxiety about their appearance when we first interact with them, and, because we end up doing the procedures in multiple stages, we establish relationships with them over the course of a number of months. You can see a lot of that anxiety and self-consciousness disappear as they start to feel more comfortable about their appearance and that, itself, is a function of surgery. I would absolutely encourage people to get involved; it is tremendously fulfilling.”   Currently Operation Mend also provides a leading edge mental health program designed to heal the hidden, yet lingering wounds of war.

In 2009, Mr. Katz and friend, Jim Collins provided the lead gifts to build the new 60,000 square foot “Collins-Katz Family YMCA in West Los Angeles”.

In 2009, Mr. Katz received both the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award for distinguished public service in providing outstanding support to the Nation’s Wounded Warriors and the Antonio Villaraigosa Patron of Science Award from the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center in recognition of his leadership in the care of veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. 

In 2010, Mr. Katz received the US Army’s “Strength of the Nation” award. 

In March of 2011, he received on behalf of Operation Mend, the American Legion Auxiliary’s “Public Spirit Award”, in April the Humanitarian Award from The Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior at UCLA, and in November Mr. Katz was a Grand Marshall of NYC Veteran’s Day Parade and was named as the recipient of the US Marine Corps Spirit of Hope Award. 

In November 2011, Mr. Katz also was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Secretary of the Navy.  The Secretary’s citation of award read:  For exceptional public service in support of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.  Mr. Katz championed the sacrifices of America’s veterans through his total commitment to provide reconstructive surgery to military members severely disfigured during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Mr. Katz’s extraordinary vision and selfless determination to support our Nation’s Wounded Warriors and their fullest recovery resulted in the creation of a unique partnership entitled Operation Mend between the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and military hospitals.  This partnership provides wounded service members cutting-edge reconstructive services, building upon the life-saving efforts of military medicine.  Through his philanthropic Katz Family Foundation, he funded the initial phases of Operation Mend and continues to generously underwrite the financial costs incurred by veterans’ families.  Mr. Katz’ actions truly honor and recognize the sacrifices of the men, women and their families who have faithfully and dutifully served our Nation.  In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Mr. Katz is most highly deserving of the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award.

In February 2012, Mr. Katz was awarded the Order of Military Medical Merit.

In May 2013, Mr. Katz was honored with the IAVA Community Leadership Award.

In 2014, Mr. Katz endowed the “Katz Family Pavilion” at the Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles.

Ron Katz has two sons, Randall Mark and Todd Matthew and two daughters-in-law, Kathy and Dana, all of whom are involved and committed to the Family Foundation’s charitable efforts.

Mr. Katz is the son of Mickey Katz, a highly acclaimed comedian, actor and musician. Mr. Katz’s brother is Joel Grey, Academy Award winning stage and screen actor, singer, and dancer, best known for his role as the "Master of Ceremonies" in both the stage and film adaptation of the musical Cabaret.