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Symantec Says Textbooks Anticipated Columbia's Patents

February 24, 2016

​Fenwick & West intellectual property partner Brian Hoffman recently appeared on behalf of Symantec Corp. before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to assert that two Columbia University patents claiming to cover a unique system for detecting computer intrusions are invalid.

As Law360 reported, Hoffman's request was the latest development in what is now a long dispute. Symantec, a cybersecurity company, and Columbia collaborated on building malware detection tools beginning in 2004, but a series of counterclaims involving some of the technology developed during that partnership has ensued.

Hoffman argued that claims of the Columbia patents are obvious in view of disclosures found in prior art textbooks. Columbia's patents use the Windows registry. While one of the textbooks, “Bace,” did not specifically mention the registry, Hoffman argued that the importance of the registry was well known to people of ordinary skill in the art of intrusion detection.

"It is not like it is a whole new type of data. [The registry] fits right in with the hierarchy established by Bace," Hoffman told the Board.

According to Law360's analysis, Hoffman also asserted that the method of registry gathering laid out in another reference, known as "Russinovich," taken with the analysis system in Bace, "would be combined to make Columbia's system obvious, given the registry's importance to the functioning of the Windows operating system."

"Just because you can analyze a wide variety of things doesn't make it not obvious to audit the registry. People knew the registry was important," Hoffman argued, in response to skepticism from opposing counsel.

The full article is available through Law360's website (subscription required).