Finjan wins patent dispute against Secure Computing

A jury said Finjan deserves royalties of 16% from past sales of Secure Computing's Webwasher software, 8% of its Webwasher appliance and 8% of its CyberGuard TSP appliance.

Finjan Inc. won a patent dispute against Secure Computing Corp., with a U.S. District Court of Delaware jury ruling that Secure Computing should pay Finjan royalties for infringing on its patents. Secure Computing vows to appeal the decision.

The jury said Finjan deserves royalties for 16% of past sales for Secure Computing's Webwasher software and another 16% for its WebWasher and CyberGuard TSP appliances [8% in royalties for sales of each appliance]. The ruling comes as a huge relief, said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan's chief technology officer.

"It's very important that we own what the government has given us, and that is the patents," he said. "Now that the jury has validated our patents we can focus on what's most important -- providing customers with our security technology."

The dispute began in 2006 when UK-based Finjan filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Secure Computing and its subsidiaries, CyberGuard and Webwasher. Finjan claimed that the Webwasher Secure Content Management software suite, IronMail and Cyberguard TSP products infringed on a number of its patents. Meanwhile, San Jose, Calif.-based Secure Computing filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minnesota in May 2007 claiming that Finjan's load-balancing security products, including its Vital Security Load Balancer NG-5300, infringed on one of its patents. Secure Computing also claimed Finjan conducted a false advertising campaign with misleading statements about its technology.

Finjan has said its patents date back to 1996. Its technology is at the heart of Vital Security(TM) Web Appliances, a leading Secure Web Gateway utilizing the most comprehensive and advanced proactive web security solution, protecting corporate networks from Web-borne threats.

In an emailed statement to SearchSecurity.com, Secure Computing vowed to fight on.

"While we're clearly disappointed in yesterday's verdict, we firmly believe that we have substantial grounds for appeal and we intend to proceed with the suit against Finjan on our load balancing patent," said Mary Budge, senior vice president, secretary and general counsel for Secure Computing. "We are extremely motivated to challenge this result and we plan to take all the necessary steps to over-turn it."

Secure Computing said it does not believe it infringes upon Finjan's patents in any way, and the company continues to believe that Finjan's patents are invalid. The Webwasher scanning technology accused of infringement by Finjan uses heuristic rules to categorize the behavior of executable code. The use of heuristics in general to analyze code was known and in use prior to the filing of any of Finjan's patents, Budge said, adding that the specific complex heuristics in the proactive scanning module were developed by Webwasher and are the product of Webwasher's original research.

Furthermore, Secure Computing noted that the news wasn't all bad on its end since the jury rejected Finjan's accusation of infringement with respect to the hashing function in Webwasher and therefore found no infringement of one of the three patents asserted by Finjan.

"The only technology accused of infringement in the latest release of Webwasher is the proactive scanning feature of a single module of Webwasher," Secure Computing said in its statement. "Other modules, including Webwasher's URL-filtering technology, do not use the behavior categories accused by Finjan. Nevertheless, Secure Computing intends to defend and support its unique heuristic scanning technology."

Secure Computing's separate patent infringement suit against Finjan's load balancing technology remains pending in the District Court for the Federal District of Delaware.

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