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

“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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