Fortinet and Trend Micro have settled a long-standing patent dispute over antivirus software, the companies said Monday.
Trend Micro sued Fortinet in 2004, alleging the company had infringed one of its patents in the antivirus software used in its FortiGate network appliance. The companies did not disclose the terms of the settlement but said that it ends the original suit in a U.S. district court, proceedings at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and a federal circuit court appeal of an earlier ITC ruling.
Trend Micro went after Fortinet in both the district court and the ITC, and in October it won a final ruling at the trade body that barred the sale of the FortiGate appliance in the U.S., according to Carolyn Bostick, vice president and general counsel at Trend Micro, based in Tokyo. In late October, Trend Micro sought an enforcement action from the ITC, alleging that Fortinet wasn't complying with the ban, Bostick said. The settlement ends all those actions.
The FortiGate appliance includes firewall, intrusion prevention, Web content filtering, antispam and traffic-shaping features in addition to antivirus. The Trend Micro patent involves technology that scans e-mail and Internet data transfers for viruses at gateways and servers, before the data arrives at a desktop computer.
After the ITC ruling in October, Fortinet modified its antivirus software to avoid infringing the patent and kept selling the appliance, which Trend Micro believed was a violation of the order, said Fortinet spokeswoman Michelle Spolver.
With this settlement, Fortinet, in California, is now allowed to use the technology covered by the patent, Spolver said. The company will continue to sell its modified FortiGate but will release a new firmware version in March that combines the benefits of both the modified version and the patented software, she said.