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The Register: Symantec under attack over security patents on incremental software updates

Feb 09, 2001, 21:16 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Leyden)

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"Symantec has stirred up a controversy in the anti-virus community by filing two patents which cover its method for updating anti-virus software and definitions incrementally. The patents, filed last year but only publicised this week, concern technology which allows users to download only those incremental virus definitions that are new since their last update, thereby saving time and resources."

"This makes a lot of sense and indeed technology that works in a similar way is included is technology form McAfee and Trend, to name but two other anti-virus vendors. It's also worth noting that the ability to download files that allow incremental patching of existing running software has been available for many years on Unix and Linux systems - and what Symantec is doing seems only to be "fine-tweaking" this."

"Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "I don't believe this will hold water - you can do incremental updates in various ways. The patents don't come to much." Symantec admits that software updating is old hat but claims that it is patenting technology which takes a different approach to the problem."

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