Patent Holding Company Sues Computer and Software Makers

By  |  Monday, January 19, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Software patents are increasingly being used like lottery tickets: If you file enough of them, you’ll eventually have the winning number for litigation. Information Protection and Authentication of Texas (IPAT) has sued a dozen computer makers and some software developers for allegedly violating two security related patents that it holds.

IPAT filed a formal complaint in a south Florida district court last Thursday. Some of the defendants are Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo. It has also separately filed suit against software makers including Microsoft and Symantec in a Texas court.

The patents, US patent No. 5,311,591, titled “Computer system security method and apparatus for creating and using program authorization information data structures,” and its continuation, US patent No. 5,412,717, deal with how an an operating system monitors and enforces application permissions.

These folks would make Vito Corleone proud. IPAT is asking for jury trials to shake down the alleged violators for as much as it possibly can.

If this case doesn’t demonstrate why patent reform is necessary, I don’t know what is. The patent, which was granted in the 1990s, does not seem unique, and I hope that prior art is found which invalidates it.


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. johnb Says:

    or is it possible that the large companies ignored licensing deals with the inventor and is dragging out paying?

  2. Vulpine Says:

    Considering that operating systems and web browsers are older than the ’90s and that viruses are older than desktop computing, I’m pretty sure evidence can be found that the patent itself should be invalidated and that IPAT should be charged with attempted fraud.

    Actually, with the fact that IPAT is suing such a large group simultaneously, I expect the individual defendants will group together and mount a massive defense/countersuit so big that IPAT can’t even afford to sustain the original lawsuit.

  3. IT and Network Support Company Says:

    No surprise, but there are numerous companies that have been established for this sole purpose….very difficult if not impossible to stop.

  4. dinnerbell Says:

    dont get all worked up into a lather. if the patents are bad, they will be invalidated.

    it can cost a patentee 2-7 million to bring a case through trial. if the patentee thought they were bad patents, they would not be litigating with them. would you? in the end it all works out. take a sedative.

    please see for a different/opposing view on patent reform

  5. Inflecto Systems (Software Developers) Says:

    People shouldn’t be able to take advantage of the patent system in this way. I think the patent system kills off innovation in smaller companies. More care needs to be taken to ensure companies pursuing a patent genuinely have something which is unique and large enough to patent. It seems you can patent anything nowadays.