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Ex-Microsoft CTO's firm files patent lawsuits

Symantec, McAfee and Hynix targeted

Intellectual Ventures, a patent portfolio developer and broker started by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, has filed patent lawsuits against nine tech companies, including Symantec, McAfee and Hynix Semiconductor.

Intellectual Ventures filed three patent infringement lawsuits on Wednesday in US District Court for the District of Delaware, the company announced.

The first lawsuit targets software security vendors Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro and Check Point Software Technologies. The second lawsuit targets DRAM (dynamic RAM) and Flash memory vendors Hynix and Elpida Memory. The third names FPGA (field-programmable gate array) vendors Altera, Lattice Semiconductor, and Microsemi, which recently acquired Actel and its FPGA business.

"Over the years, Intellectual Ventures has successfully negotiated licence agreements with some of the top technology companies in the world," Melissa Finocchio, chief litigation counsel for Intellectual Ventures, said in a statement. "However, some companies have chosen to ignore our requests for good faith negotiations and discussions. Protecting our invention rights through these actions is the right choice for our investors, inventors and current licensees."

The company, founded in 2000, has purchased more than 30,000 patents, in addition to patenting its own inventions, according to court documents. Intellectual Ventures has earned nearly US$2 billion by licensing patents it has purchased, the company said in one of the patent complaints.

Representatives of Symantec, McAfee, Check Point and Trend Micro declined to comment on the lawsuits. A representative Hynix wasn't immediately available for comment.

In the software security patent lawsuit, Intellectual Ventures alleges that the four defendants have infringed a patent for computer virus screening methods and systems, awarded in November 1999, as well as a patent for automated post office based rule analysis of e-mail messages and other data objects for controlled distribution in network environments, awarded in June 2000. The defendants have also infringed a patent for a distributed content identification system, issued in October 2002, and one for an email virus protection system and method, awarded in March 2009, the company has alleged.

Intellectual Ventures alleges that Hynix and Elpida have infringed seven patents, and that the FPGA vendors infringed five patents.


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