July 8, 1997 12:45 PM PDT
Trend Micro wages patent war
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McAfee, Symantec suedMay 14, 1997
The company is seeking to stop British company Integralis and its U.S. subsidiary from allegedly infringing on its patent for computer virus detection technology that carries data over the Internet and by email.
Trend Micro's claims against Integralis were filed in response to a lawsuit initiated by Integralis in June seeking judicial protection after it was notified by Trend Micro that its products infringe the Trend Micro patent.
Integralis's suit charges unfair business practices because it alleges that Trend Micro approached Integralis's business partners and suggested that they might be infringing on Trend Micro's patent just by using the competitors products.
Trend Micro response alleges that Integralis's MimeSweeper and WebSweeper violate its patent, and has asked the court to stop Integralis from selling those products to customers in the United States. The lawsuit also asks the court for damages for willful infringement.
Victor Woodward, president of Integralis, said that the company's antivirus product MimeSweeper was shipping in Europe before Trend Micro even applied for the patent. "The problem is that most people [in Europe] don't patent software. Other companies have been doing this sort of [antivirus] work, but have not patented it. European companies copyright, but don't patent, and that presents a lot of international issues," he said.
This is not Trend Micro's first patent action. In May, the company sued its two largest competitors, antivirus leaders McAfee (MCAF) and Symantec (SYMC), for alleged patent infringement of its computer virus detection techniques.
Last week, Symantec filed an answer to Trend Micro's complaint.
"Our answer is that we deny infringing the patent?It is a very broad patent," said Rebecca Ranninger, director of legal affairs for Symantec. She added that Trend Micro's patent is so broad that it is invalid.
Ranninger said that virus protection over the Internet is not like copying someone's software, rather, "it is like having patent on driving a car."
McAfee too denied that it had infringed on any patents. Prabhat Goyal, CFO of McAfee, today said that McAfee has asked the court to deny the patent and rule it invalid. "I see this as a marketing ploy," he said. "This is a two-page lawsuit with a four-page press release."
He added that since Trend was granted a patent in April they have they have sued competitors in an effort to bring their name into the forefront.
The next step in the Symantec and McAfee cases is what is called the discovery process, where the two sides exchange documents and explore the parameters of both the patent itself and the products in question.
"Were not just in it for the royalty," said Trend Micro's general counsel Bob Lowe, in an earlier interview on the two lawsuits. "Our main goal is having the products be prevented from being sold?Any ongoing sales from this point forward are infringing and should be stopped."