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Symantec sues rivals in backup patents spat

Sales ban and damages bid against Acronis and Veeam

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

It's war: big backup beast Symantec is suing upstart competitors Acronis and Veeam, accusing them of infringing its patents and getting a free ride using Symantec technology. It wants jury trials, cessation of infringing product sales and damages.

The cited patents deal with backup and replication - see if you can recognise any of these technologies:

  • Symantec's '517 patent covers backup data being restored to a different hardware configuration from the source hardware
  • The '086 patent refers to a virtual machine backup going to a different storage device than the one used by the VM
  • A '365 patent covers storing backup data in the same storage partition as the source data and restoring from it
  • The '655 patent refers to constructing a catalogue of backed up data
  • Symantec's '010 patent is about a backup and restore GUI that enables simultaneous viewing of the contents of a computer that has been backed up and the destination computer for a restoration.

Acronis is being sued in Northern California for allegedly infringing these five patents with its Backup and Recovery product line. Symantec wants Acronis stopped from selling its backup and recovery products and made to pay damages.

Veeam is being sued in the same court for allegedly infringing the '086 patent and three others with its Backup & Replication software:

  • A '558 patent refers to restoring a complete virtual or physical client machine on a network, including OS, file configuration and data, in a single step
  • Symantec's '299 patent deals with periodic replication via multiple point-in-time snapshots in virtual and physical environments
  • The '682 patent covers classifying files as desired or undesired and only including desired files in a backup snapshot.

Symantec claims "Veeam's infringement is cause-in-fact of profit loss and price erosion suffered by Symantec". It wants Veeam prevented from selling any products that break Symantec's patents plus damages. That would put Veeam out of business.

A Veeam spokesperson said: "It's Veeam's policy not to comment on any pending legislation."

Acronis has said it is planning to defend the case in court. We imagine it'll deny all claims until the point at which Symantec looks likely to win, if that point is reached, and then start negotiating licences and royalty payments. Until then it's business as usual. ®

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