Microsoft, Symantec, CA, 19 others sued for patent infringement

Twenty-two major software and security companies are being sued for alleged patent infringement by a little-known entity now controlling the two patents in question.

Information Protection and Authentication of Texas (IPAT) filed suit on Dec. 30 against companies such as Microsoft,Symantec and CA, alleging infringement of U.S. patents No. 5,311,591 and No. 5,412,717.

Patent 5,311,591 is called “Computer System Security Method and Apparatus for Creating and Using Program Authorization Information Data Structures” and was granted in May 1994.

The inventor is credited as Addison M. Fischer [cq] of Naples, Florida. The innovation is intended to allow a computer user to control how an application behaves in order to thwart other malicious software.

The second one, No. 5,412,717, is also credited to Fischer and was granted in May 1995. The invention deals with using hashes — unique numerical identifiers — to ensure an application has not been tampered with.

Microsoft has been a frequent target of patent suits in the past, including one in which the company was ordered to pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion.Multiple patent suits such as the one filed by IPAT are also know as a shotgun approach.

IPAT is asking for a jury trial in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, where many companies choose to file patent disputes. IPAT seeks an injunction against the companies using the technologies and damages.

Also named in the suit are companies AVG, Check Point Software, Comodo, ESET, F-Secure, Iolo technologies, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, MicroWorld Technologies, NetVeda, Norman Data Defense Systems, Novell, PC Tools, PWI, Sophos, Sunbelt Software, Trend Micro, Velocity Micro and Webroot Software.

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