Killing a blood sucking software patent

The anti-thesis of open source, software patents stifle innovation. Here is one blood sucker that may be on its last legs.

Few topics can illicit a more guttural response from an open source advocate than the topic of software patents. In many respects they are the very anti-thesis of open source. In security there has been one particularly irksome patent that has bedeviled the industry for years and probably held back innovation and progress in gateway anti-virus technology. Now after all these years, as many have claimed in the past, the patent is on the verge of being over turned as invalid. The best news is that it very well may have been the open source community that showed it as invalid!

I actually began following this story about 2 years ago on my blog. You can read my original posts on this here and here. The patent in question was originally filed by Trend Micro back in 1995. Called the '600 patent, Trend has used it as a blunt instrument against anyone who tried to implement gateway anti-virus. That's right anyone who tried to implement an anti-virus solution at the gateway to your network or mail server was hauled in by Trend.

While many thought the patent invalid, it is a very expensive process to have a patent declared invalid. So companies like Symantec, McAfee, Fortinet, Panda among others have all paid Trend blood money over the years.

But the money Trend made on this questionable patent over the years is only part of the story. How many new innovations, new companies, new ways of protecting our computers from malware never saw the light of day because of this patent. That is the hidden, but real cost of software patents. They stifle innovation.


This story, "Killing a blood sucking software patent" was originally published by Network World.

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