Norton and Columbia set to fight over malware patents • The Register

The legal battle between NortonLifeLock and Columbia University over anti-malware patents continued last week, with attorneys’ fees and a new lawsuit pending two months after a jury awarded the university $185 million.

In 2013, Columbia sued Norton and accused the company of infringing 167 claims on six patents. Although May’s award went to Columbia, it has since sought additional attorney’s fees.

The security company replied [PDF] saying that “the purpose of an award of attorney’s fees under the Patent Act is to compensate a prevailing party who was forced to litigate a case which was ‘exceptional’, either because the case of the party was remarkably weak or without merit, or because the other party engaged in wrongdoing in vexatious litigation. Neither of these applies here.”

He went on to explain that “Norton rejected 90% of those claims, leaving Columbia with only 18 claims in two patents.”

The two patents at issue are 8,601,322 and 8,074,115, which relate to malware detection. New York University filed its patent application for the latter on October 25, 2006, and the former on November 21, 2011. The two applications were granted in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

Norton’s view was that it released the SONAR/BASH feature in 2009, before the patents were granted. “Norton couldn’t have copied Columbia’s claimed patents,” he said, “because it launched SONAR/BASH in 2009 before either patent existed.”

At trial, Columbia presented four claims from two patents and virtually won; the jury rejected his request for concealment but found that Norton had deliberately infringed.

The price, while 20% less than Columbia was looking for, was substantial and tight. The jury was deadlocked and Norton called the verdict “divided”. Columbia received $185.1 million for the counterfeit products.

But it’s far from over. Columbia filed a motion on June 3 for increased damages (lawyers are expensive) and the two filed other legal documents late last week. Norton denied copying Columbia technology and thundered, “Norton’s conduct does not approach the level of culpability necessary for an award of increased damages.”

For its part, Columbia also tried to eliminate [PDF] what he saw as the cybersecurity company’s offer for a new trial. His motion described the jury as “careful” and, unsurprisingly, asked that Norton’s new motion for judgment as a question of law “be dismissed in its entirety.”

The register contacted Columbia attorneys as well as Norton attorneys. The two have yet to respond. In the meantime, the lawsuits look set to continue as technology litigation enters its second decade. ®

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