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Home » Hacking News » Security Software Company Wins Patent

Security Software Company Wins Patent

by ivy on August 7th, 2001 SAN JOSE, Calif. — Corp. has won a patent for its system of delivering security-related software and services over the Internet, giving it a potential leg up in the emerging trend of subscription-based software.

"This doesn't close the door for competitors, it simply sets some boundaries for them,'' said Harry Fenik, chief executive officer of the Sageza Group, a market research firm.

Unlike like its rivals, which sell boxes of software and make customers do their own installations, Sunnyvale-based McAfee delivers all of its virus-protection and PC-management software via the Internet. McAfee also does the technical work and continued maintenance for its customers' desktop computers remotely via its Web site — all on a subscription basis.

The patent, issued July 24 by the U.S. Patent Office, covers the technology behind McAfee's system, what co-inventor Srivats Sampath calls the company's "secret sauce,'' as well as its subscription-based business model, the company said Monday. McAfee applied for the patent in 1998.

"The future of software is really going to be delivered as Web services and we have a component of that,'' said Sampath, McAfee's president and chief executive officer. "The patent is a way to protect our investment.''

No known competitor delivers a comparable product or service today, Fenik said, but it may only be a matter of time before others follow suit. Microsoft Corp. and other types of software vendors are already testing the concept of charging ongoing online subscriptions instead of collecting one-time package fees.

And now, any company or so-called application service provider looking to offer subscription- and Web-based software specifically in the security and PC-management arena "will have to tread carefully'' to not infringe on McAfee's patent, or decide to pay McAfee licensing fees, Fenik said.

"If they don't want to work with us, they could engineer around the patent,'' Sampath said.

It's too early to say whether McAfee would sue potential violators, Sampath said, but "we will be sensitive to someone willfully flaunting the technology.''

McAfee, a majority-owned subsidiary of Network Associates, targets consumers and small businesses. It has more than 1 million paid subscribers and earned $46.9 million in fiscal year 2000.

by The Associated Press

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