Columbia University wins $185 million patent infringement suit

On Behalf of | May 12, 2022 | Intellectual Property Litigation, Patents |

On May 2, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in favor of Columbia University in a patent-infringement lawsuit against NortonLifeLock Inc. The university sued the company, previously known as Symantec, in 2013 for infringing upon research that it shared during previous collaborations that began in 2006.

Columbia initially claimed that NortonLifeLock Inc.’s Version 6.0 use of a product feature called SONAR/BASH violated six patents, but the jury found that there were only two patent violations. The so-called BASH feature detects the presence of malware on a computer by identifying anomalous behaviors viruses cause in computer systems.

“The patented technology changed the way we detect malicious malware and increased the safety of individuals’, companies’ and the U.S. government’s computers at a critical time when traditional malware detection was failing,” Orin Herskowitz, senior vice president of intellectual property and technology transfer at Columbia University, said in a statement.

The jury’s decisions

After first reaching an impasse, the jury received additional instruction from the judge and subsequently awarded $185 million to pay royalties from sales in the U.S. ($91.1 million) and around the world ($94 million) because it was made in and distributed from the U.S. It also deemed that two college professors and a NortonLifeLock employee should be named as co-inventors of a patent that creates decoys in a computer system for the malware to attack.

NortonLifeLock plans to appeal the verdict, claiming its products do not infringe on the school’s patents.

Case: Trs. Of Columbia Univ. in N.Y.C. v. NortonLifeLock Inc.

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