Sep 15 2010

Market leadership through lawsuit?

Published by at 6:47 am under Encryption,Security Advisories

I am not a lawyer and I don’t even pretend to understand the complexity of our patent system when it is applied to software, but I’m always astounded when company’s file lawsuits based on broad, over-arching technology solutions.  I find this especially distressing when it affects a market that is, in itself, a fairly simple idea, like database encryption.  So when I received a press release from Protegrity stating they’d filed suit against Ingrian, Safenet, NuBridges and Voltage this morning, it did not sit well with me.

I’ve seen too many companies over the last decade that are nothing more than patent trolls who acquire patents specifically for the purpose of lawsuits.  Protegrity clearly is not a patent troll, they’ve been very active in the database encryption market and likely have every right to file this lawsuit.  I’m more concerned in a number of ways with the turn our patent process has taken since software patents were allowed than this particular lawsuit, but I’m hoping that Protegrity isn’t using a legal attack to take out some of it’s biggest competitors in the field of database encryption.  Only time will tell if it has that affect, whether it’s intended or not.

The other thing that really worries me is the affect this will have on the still young end-to-end encryption market space.  Will the potential of a lawsuit based on these or other patents related to E2E have a chilling affect on new technology that shows the potential to make huge improvements in credit card security?  Or is there so much money to be made in the E2E field, so many big names backing the smaller players, that the potential of a lawsuit will be overcome by the potential to make a profit?  I suspect the potential lawsuits will make companies think twice, but in the end the potential profit will quickly overcome any worries about lawsuits.

As always, read the press release, read between the lines and make your own decision.  I’ve included the entire press release below the break for your review.

PROTEGRITY
SUES INGRIAN NETWORKS, SAFENET, NUBRIDGES AND VOLTAGE SECURITY FOR INFRINGEMENT
OF DATA ENCRYPTION PATENTS

 

STAMFORD,
CONN.,
Sept.
15, 2010
Protegrity Corporation
announced today that it filed suit against Ingrian Networks in April 2008, and
against nuBridges, Inc. and Voltage Security, Inc. in May 2010.  These
suits, which seek to protect Protegrity’s intellectual property, were all
filed in the Federal Court in Hartford, Conn.  As Safenet, Inc. acquired
Ingrian, and because the company is now selling what used to be Ingrian’s
products, Safenet has been added as a co-defendant to the Ingrian litigation. 

 

“We
have invested heavily in research, innovation and product development of our
patented technology, and we are determined to protect these investments,”
said Iain Kerr, president and CEO of Protegrity USA, Inc. “We have taken
actions to enforce our patents and to prevent the sale of infringing
products.”  

All
three of these lawsuits concern Protegrity’s data encryption patent
portfolio.  Protegrity has asserted U.S. Patent Nos. 6,321,201; 6,963,980;
and 7,325,129 against Ingrian, SafeNet, and Voltage.  Protegrity has
asserted U.S. Patent Nos. 6,321,201; 7,490,248; and 7,325,129 against
nuBridges. 

·        
U.S.
Patent 6,321,201 describes a data security system for a database having
multiple encryption levels applicable on a data element value level.  This
enables applying data sensitivity driven encryption levels for specific
categories of data in a database based on data element types (commonly arranged
in columns).

·        
U.S.
Patent 6,963,980 describes a combined system of hardware and software
implemented encryption for encryption of data of different security levels,
whereby tamper-proof hardware implemented encryption is used for the data of
higher security level and software implemented encryption is used for data of
lower security level.

·        
U.S.
Patent 7,325,129 describes a method for altering encryption status in a
database in a continuous process.  The process permits altering the
encryption status in a database without need to take the database
off-line.  Thus, the database can remain online while various encryption
operations, such as changing encryption keys, adding or removing encryption
requirements, or re-encrypting data, are performed.

·        
U.S.
Patent 7,490,248 describes an automatic method for re-encryption of a database.

The
company’s pioneering innovation and development work dates back to the
mid 1990s, when granular database encryption was deemed to be infeasible. 
Protegrity challenged the common understanding at the time that access control
alone would be sufficient to protect critical data.   

 

Protegrity’s
patent portfolio, including the patents currently being litigated, covers
important methods for companies needing to comply with the data protection
requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS),
Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), Health Information
Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) and others. 
These methods and innovations are incorporated into Protegrity’s data
protection software solutions, currently being used successfully by a growing
number of leading companies in retail, travel, transportation, insurance and
financial services.

 

About
Protegrity

Headquartered
in Stamford, Conn., Protegrity provides high performance, infinitely scalable,
end-to-end data security solutions that protect sensitive information across
the enterprise from the point of acquisition to deletion. The company’s
award winning software products span a variety of data protection methods,
including end-to-end encryption, tokenization, masking and monitoring and are
backed by several important data protection technology patents. Currently, more
than 200 enterprise customers worldwide rely on Protegrity’s
comprehensive data security solutions to enable compliance for PCI-DSS, HIPAA
and other data security requirements while protecting their sensitive data,
brand, and business reputation. For more information, please log on to http://www.protegrity.com.

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Market leadership through lawsuit?”

  1. Mike Rothmanon 16 Sep 2010 at 4:07 am

    In my experience, companies resort to patent litigation when they cant compete in the market.

    Mike.
    http://securosis.com/blog

  2. Poleon 19 Sep 2010 at 9:31 am

    In my opinion, these patents are a complete nonsense.
    Like this patent: http://www.conceivablytech.com/2530/products/microsoft-patents-operating-system-shutdown/

    I’m not really into America’s legal system, but this is getting nowhere.

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