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Management & Strategy

Symantec Ordered to Pay $17 Million for Patent Infringement

Symantec has been ordered by a federal court in Delaware to pay $17 million in damages to Intellectual Ventures for violating two patents owned by the company.

Symantec has been ordered by a federal court in Delaware to pay $17 million in damages to Intellectual Ventures for violating two patents owned by the company.

Intellectual Ventures, a patent licensing firm that owns a large number of patents in the United States, sought $298 million in damages for the infringement of three patents. A jury determined that two of the patents, 5,987,610 and 6,073,142, had been infringed, but a third one, 6,460,050, was not.

“We are grateful to the jury for their hard work and for confirming the validity of these patents,” commented Melissa Finocchio, chief litigation counsel for Intellectual Ventures. “We remain committed to defending inventor rights and protecting the interests of our investors and customers.”

Symantec has been ordered to pay $9 million in damages for violation of the ‘142 patent, which refers to “automated post office based rule analysis of e-mail messages and other data objects for controlled distribution in network environments,” and $8 million for the ‘610 patent, which covers “computer virus screening methods and systems.”

The security firm says it’s pleased the jury awarded much less than what Intellectual Ventures, considered one of the biggest so-called patent trolls, wanted. Symantec hopes to further reduce damages, the company’s representatives told Reuters.

Intellectual Ventures filed lawsuits in 2010 against McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro and Check Point for infringing these patents. McAfee and Check Point decided to settle in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The Trend Micro trial will start in May.

The patent licensing company has pointed out that this isn’t the only lawsuit filed against Symantec. The security firm was accused in 2013 of violating United States patent number 5,537,533, which is allegedly used in Symantec’s server and storage management products.

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Last week, Symantec published an earnings report for the third quarter of the fiscal year 2015. The company reported a net income of $222 million.

Patent infringement lawsuits are not uncommon in the IT security industry. While many of the complaints are filed by patent trolls, there are cases where security firms accuse each other of patent violations. In May, Palo Alto Networks agreed to pay $175 million in cash in equity to rival network security firm Juniper Networks after a lawsuit that lasted for more than two years. Juniper had accused Palo Alto that its appliances infringed on several patents.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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