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08 January 2009, 14:16

22 vendors of anti-virus software taken to court in patent dispute

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A total of 22 security software vendors have been taken to court by US company "Information Protection and Authentication of Texas" (IPAT) over alleged patent infringements. While the complaintPDF mainly targets Symantec and Microsoft, it also lists other popular and less well-known vendors of anti-virus software and other PC protection systems. The list of defendants ranges from AVG Technologies, Check Point Software, F-Secure, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Novell, Sophos, and Trend Micro to Webroot Software.

The complaint revolves around the US patents 5,311,591 and 5,412,717 granted in the mid 90s and held by the patent licensing firm. These patents describe almost identical procedures and measures for creating program authorisation features. The described system is designed to protect software from arbitrary execution and monitor the relevant resources. Security programs frequently use similar routines to track down potential malware by recognising a typical behaviour.

IPAT is seeking both damages and a temporary injunction to stop the listed security firms from future patent infringements. Branded a "patent troll" by the US media, the company has filed the complaint at the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, a court which is know for its decisions in favour of copyright owners. According to observers, however, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in Washington is increasingly clamping down on patent firms that specifically select the Texan judges. The Court of Appeals has reportedly, on several occasions, ruled that proceedings are to be handled by a court that can "conveniently" be reached by the defendant(s).

(Stefan Krempl)


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