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Trend Micro's SCO-esque Business Model Backfires, Acacia Sued for Defamation

Revenge against the patent trolls and harassers

The last time we wrote about Trend Micro (see previous post for contextual references and background) it was shown that the company was clueless when it comes to Free software. At the very least, this characterisation neatly applies to the company's leader, who is also a software patent holder. Watch what's contained in this new interview at The Register.



Trend Micro’s CEO threw down the gauntlet to her competitors last week, proclaiming that hackers are ahead of the game and that the anti-virus industry “sucks”.

[...]

Changes in the malware landscape have led to the creation of multiple variants of different malware strains and targeted attacks. Traditional top down command structures for antivirus distribution are struggling to cope. Trend Micro had little choice but to invest in the new technology. However Chen, who has five patents to her name, admitted that investors nervously questioned her risky decision.


According to this, unless it's misinterpreted, the combination of a new technical strategy and milking of competitors using junk patents was Trend Micro's new business plan. In other words, Trend Micro, realising that its product was no longer effective ('snake oil'), decided to adopt an SCO-like licensing strategy. It also raves about some cross-licensing with IBM, as its it's a form of legitimacy.

To make matters worse for Trend Micro, prior art is cropping in, so patents could soon be invalidated and a blunder ensue. Think of this as the equivalent of Novell stepping in to claim UNIX ownership.

Goran Fransson, a Swedish developer and entrepreneur, has given a deposition in the Barracuda-Trend Micro case that appears to seriously undermine Trend Micro's patent on gateway virus scanning.

As Linux.com reported in January, Trend Micro is suing Barracuda Networks before the American International Trade Commission (ITC). Trend Micro's claim is that, by distributing Clam Antivirus (ClamAV), the free software security application, Barracuda is violating Trend Micro's patent 5623600, which was filed on 26 September, 1995, and has since been used against such companies as Symantec and McAfee. The case is being heard by the ITC apparently because of Trend Micro's claim that, because ClamAV is developed by programmers around the world, it is imported software in the United States.


Trend Micro is not the only company to have suffered a setback for an Intellectual Monopoly business approach. Some days ago we wrote about a particular Acacia debacle (Acacia accommodates some Microsoft folks and litigiously attacks GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]) and now comes this:

Cognex Invalidates Acacia Patent '524; Next? Suing for Business Defamation



[...]

Do you remember back in 2005 a company called Cognex took on Lemelson Partnership and won, invalidating 14 of Lemelson's patents? Well, it turns out that after that, they took on Acacia Research, and they just beat them too. Acacia is now minus one of its patents. Here's the order [PDF]. Cognex is now aggressively going after Acacia for defamation, attorneys fees, and damages, including, or so they hope, according to a motion to amend their complaint, special and punitive damages.


Whereas SCO is burning any ounce of cash that's left in its coffers, this Acacia patent troll might have to pay. If defamation suits were to succeed, then the business model behind the likes of Nathan Myhrvold would be at risk. The suits become a two-edged sword.

"Copying all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free."

--Richard Stallman

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