Trend Micro Wins Legal Dispute With Patent Troll

Security giant Trend Micro has dodged a potentially costly copyright infringement trial with Intellectual Ventures after a judge invalidated two key patents belonging to the firm.

Judge Leonard Stark ruled at the end of last week that the patents were too abstract and not eligible for legal protection.

That means that a planned trial will now not take place next month.

Intellectual Ventures accused Trend Micro and Symantec back in 2010 of infringing its IP with technology in their web and email security products.

The firm is now thought to have one of the biggest collections of patents in the world – which it makes money from by licensing and/or suing companies on the back of.

The patent troll was seeking $150m from Trend Micro for infringing US patents 6,460,050 (‘050) and 6,073,142 (‘142). The first relates to a ‘digital identifier for email messages’, while the second describes ‘automated post office’ technology which analyzes and filters emails.

“At Trend Micro, we recognize how important patent rights are for companies who invest millions of dollars in research and development, in addition to the human capital required to create innovative products in a competitive industry like software security,” said Trend Micro CEO, Eva Chen.

“We respect the judge’s decision that patents should protect new, original thinking and generic or abstract ideas do not become patentable merely because they are embodied in software. This validation is positive for our entire industry.”

A third patent involved in the case was deemed valid by the judge, potentially paving the way for a trial with Symantec.

“We have always firmly believed that the case has been based on an overbroad construction of invalid patents since we were targeted by Intellectual Ventures in 2010,” said Trend Micro general counsel, Felix Sterling.

“The decision provides vindication on this issue and we are appreciative of the court’s ruling, in addition to the tireless efforts of our internal and external legal teams to defend Trend Micro from this meritless litigation.”

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