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The US International Trade Commission has passed an order blocking Fortinet from importing its FortiGate antivirus firewall products into the US pending resolution of a patent dispute with rival Trend Micro. The ruling upholds an earlier preliminary finding that Fortinet had infringed Trend Micro's patent covering server-based antivirus technology (US patent 5,623,600).

Fortinet is allowed to support its current customers but because of the ruling it won't be able to provide new US customers with anti-virus updates for FortiGate appliances bought after the order was issued on Monday, potentially diminishing the appeal of Fortinet's all-in-one security product. Fortinet said the decision will not affect its business except in the US, which accounts for 30 per cent of its sales. Fortinet hopes to rely on channel partners to service US customers for the next two to three months until it adapts its antivirus technology to lay outside the scope of Trend Micro's patent. "The order will have no impact on resellers and only involves the anti-virus component of FortiGate," a spokeswoman explained. "The order will affect sales but we hope it won't be significant"

Trend also brought a separate civil action against Fortinet over the same issue in a US District Court in California. This action was halted pending the ITC ruling and will now resume. ®

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