More Vista Troubles: Symantec

by Janet Meyer May 23, 2006

On May 2 James Stoup wrote a great article comparing Microsoft Vista delays to Charlie Brown trying to kick a football. James, did you read the latest on this at the end of last week? Your analogy is still holding up.

This time the potential for delay is caused by Symantec, who is suing Microsoft over storage technology. According to USA Today, Symantec has asked the court to stop Microsoft from selling Vista until the disputed technology is removed. Symantec also wants the software removed from other Microsoft products, including Windows XP.

Mac Vista gives some of the details of the dispute. In 1996 Microsoft signed a deal with Veritas Software (now merged with Symantec) allowing Microsoft to use its volume management technology. Microsoft contends that the agreement gave it the option to buy the rights to Veritas’ intellectual property, which it did in 2004.

Symantec says the buyout was an attempt to whitewash what Microsoft is actually doing. It claims that in reality, part of the agreement with Veritas prevented Microsoft from developing competing products.

An interesting article at Business & Technology talks about other allegations made by Symantec. According to this article, Symantec states that Microsoft deliberately misappropriated Symantec’s data storage technologies, then misled the United States Government in order to be issued patents based on those technologies. PC World quoted the court filings as stating that “Microsoft was so bold as to file fraudulent documents with the government” to gain the disputed patents.

It’s pretty obvious why Apple Computer would enjoy a further delay for Windows, but what does Symantec get out of it? Prior to this, Symantec had partnered with Microsoft, but the partnership appears to be a thing of the past. Microsoft plans to become a competitor of Symantec by distributing its own security products.

You might remember a recent Supreme Court ruling regarding eBay’s Buy It Now feature. In essence, a company wanted an injunction against eBay to stop using this feature because it held the patent. The court ruled that injunctions can’t just be obtained without considering the actual damage being done. In other words, if somebody holds a patent that they never plan to put to practical use, there isn’t any real damage. This ruling is intended to prevent companies from filing patents with the sole intent of using them for licensing fees.

What affect do you think this eBay ruling will have on Symantec? To me it seems as though it won’t affect Symentac because the company makes practical use of its patents. If the things Symantec claims about Microsoft are true, it could have a case.

Some speculate that Microsoft will settle with Symantec in order to avoid a further delay. Symantec doesn’t want to compete with Microsoft, but Microsoft won’t want to make a lot more changes in Vista. It’s already been a long enough process.

For now, both sides seem to feel they have a strong case. Microsoft would be working something out with Symantec if they thought they’d lose, but Symantec makes some pretty strong claims.

This should be an interesting case to watch.


  • Maybe some good will come of Symantec’s buyout of Veritas.

    Chris Howard had this to say on May 23, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • I hope so, Chris.

    Janet Meyer had this to say on May 23, 2006 Posts: 36
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