US trade agency to investigate antivirus patent claims

The ITC has voted to investigate claims by Trend Micro that Barracuda Networks, Panda Software, and Panda Distribution are infringing on its patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to investigate claims by Trend Micro of competitors' patent infringement involving antivirus products.

Trend Micro filed a trade complaint November 21 against fellow cybersecurity vendors Barracuda Networks of Campbell, California; Panda Software International, based in Spain; and Panda Distribution of Glendale, California.

Trend Micro's complaint accuses the three companies of infringing its patent for virus detection and removal apparatus for computer networks. The technology "represents a dramatic departure from the traditional antivirus methods of safeguarding individual computers," the company says in its complaint.

The Trend Micro complaint accuses Barracuda of importing antivirus software that infringes its patent. The complaint says Barracuda uses code from the open-source antivirus product ClamAV, which is written in part in Europe and Australia. Barracuda also imports hardware components, the complaint says.

Panda's products also contain code imported into the U.S., the Trend Micro complaint says.

A Barracuda spokeswoman said the complaint is curious. "It is interesting that the ITC has decided to take up an investigation, given Barracuda Networks manufactures all of its products in the United States and does not import anything of significance," said Kylie Heintz.

A Panda representative didn't immediately respond to a request for comments.

The ITC case will be referred to an administrative law judge, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The judge will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. That initial determination is subject to commission review.

The ITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time, the commission said in a news release. Within 45 days, the ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.

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