Intellectual Ventures Sues Over Security Patents
A patent licensing firm founded by Microsoft's former chief strategist and CTO sues several leading security software firms for patent infringement.
'Tis the season to be litigious."
Intellectual Ventures (IV), an intellectual property development and licensing firm headed by Microsoft's former CTO and chief strategy officer, Nathan Myhrvold, filed three patent lawsuits against nine technology firms on Wednesday.
The company said it filed suit against four software security companies Check Point Software, McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro as well as another five technology firms, according to the court filing. Other technology areas where the firm claims its patents are being infringed are dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA).
In the DRAM market, IV sued Elpida Memory and Hynix Semiconductor, while in the FPGA arena, IV sued Altera, Lattice Semiconductor, and Microsemi Corp., according to IV court filings. Additionally, an IV statement noted, Microsemi "recently acquired Actel Corp. and its FPGA business."
The suit against the security firms claims that one or more of each company's products infringe four of IV's patents. Among the patents that IV claims are being infringed upon, for example, are one entitled "E-mail Virus Protection System and Method," and another titled "Computer Virus Screening Methods and Systems.
Among products that IV claims contain the infringing technologies, the filing lists Check Point Security Management Portal On-demand products, McAfee SaaS E-mail Protection, Symantec MessageLabs Hosted E-mail Security, and Trend Micro Hosted E-mail Security products.
In addition, IV's suit against the DRAM makers alleges the two companies are infringing seven patents regarding memory design, while the suit against the two gate array makers alleges they are infringing an additional five patents.
IV, which bills itself as an invention company, was co-founded by Myhrvold, a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) veteran who left the software behemoth in 2000 after 14 years. Myhrvold holds a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics, as well as two masters degrees, and left a post with physicist Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University to found a company in the mid-1980s that Microsoft subsequently purchased. Among his legacies, Myhrvold started up Microsoft Research, the software giant's basic research labs.
Since he retired from Microsoft, Myhrvold and IV co-founder Edward Jung, another Microsoft veteran, have assembled a company that deals in intellectual property in many fields, not just computing ranging from nuclear reactors to malaria treatment. IV also creates its own inventions, as well as co-developing, purchasing, and licensing them from others, and also licenses them to other companies.
In its suits, IV claims to have purchased some 30,000 intellectual properties which have in turn earned licensing revenues of $2 billion.
Patent infringement and other suits involving intellectual property seem to be on the upswing lately, with plenty of examples either meant to gain leverage or reap revenue, or both.
For instance, in August, one of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's companies, Interval Licensing, sued 11 major technology firms over their use of patents created by a now-closed Allen research organization called Interval Research. The defendants on that list include AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Yahoo and YouTube, along with Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples.
They're not alone.
In March, for instance, Apple sued HTC for infringing patents it holds on mobile devices.
Also, in August, Oracle sued Google over patents it holds for Java that it claims Android infringes.
Meanwhile, in October, Microsoft sued Motorola for patent infringement regarding the phone maker's Android-based smartphones.
A month later, in November, Motorola countersued Microsoft for infringing 16 of its own patents.
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November 10, 2010
Just over a month since Microsoft sued Motorola for patent infringement, the software maker is back in court, this time suing over Motorola's refusal to license some of its patents at what Microsoft considers fair rates.