Barracuda Seeks Open Source Community Help In Fighting Off Patent Infringement Claims

from the prior-art-please dept

Back in December, we wrote about how a patent lawsuit being brought by antivirus firm Trend Micro against security company Barracuda could make computers less secure. As details start to come out about the case, the situation seems even worse than originally stated. T.J. writes in to point us to a detailed history of the case. It starts off by noting that Barracuda is asking for help from the open source community in finding and submitting prior art. That's because Barracuda makes some use of the open source product ClamAV. However, the additional details provided show how anti-competitive Trend Micro's lawsuit is, rather than being one designed to push for "progress."

Specifically, it looks like Trend Micro worked out favorable deals with the big players in the space, McAfee and Symantec, and is now using those to suggest that the patent must be valid. Yet, in its demands to Barracuda, the terms are quite stringent -- clearly designed more to punish the company for doing something so obvious as creating a gateway for antivirus scanning. Furthermore, after threatening letters from Trend Micro, Barracuda did the smart thing and filed for a declaratory judgment in Northern California, rather than letting Trend Micro file in a place like Marshall, Texas. In response, Trend Micro used the increasingly popular loophole that gives them a second way to sue for patent infringement: bringing a claim to the US International Trade Commission, claiming that Barracuda (a US company) was illegally "importing" infringing products. This method has been an effective way for patent holders to get a second shot at attacking companies they accuse of infringement -- and doing so in a "court" that doesn't need to pay attention to Supreme Court rules on what's patentable and what's not. It all adds up to some fairly sleazy moves by Trend Micro, so if you have any prior art to help show that this patent never should have been granted in the first place, send it along.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 12:54am

    How come...

    ...the USITC doesn't violate some WTO rule or other against non-tariff trade barriers?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    bobbknoght, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 3:15am

    boycot

    Lets just start a boycott of trend micro and companies that have agreements with them, post to all boards and forums you are on. Get the word out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Haywood, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 6:01am

    Re: boycott +1

    I agree, it's time to let these companies know it isn't ok to push the little guys out. Trend seemed at first to be a public relations oriented business, what with the free house call service. Boycotting won't be a burden, as the free products like Avast free are generally superior to the bloated intrusive big name products. I use and recommend Avast free, the only gripe I have with it is the loud update announcement that apparently can't be turned off. When that matters (like in a HTPC) I use PCtools free or Ashampoo free both are good products, just not quite as powerful as AVAST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jan 30th, 2008 @ 6:16am

    just use clam

    any first year programming course will teach you that using software to detect the intentions of another piece of software is impossible, and that pattern matching based on signatures is the best bet for malware and virus protection.

    so, if signatures are your only line of defense, and clam AV is one of the most frequently updated signature databases in the world, why not just skip proprietary AV software and use clam?

    there is a client version for windows available here: http://www.clamwin.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    1735101, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    ITC and patent law

    Why do you say the ITC doesn't have to follow the same patent law as the courts do? Appeals go to the Federal Circuit, just like all other patent cases, and the Federal Circuit reverse the ITC just as regularly as everyone else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    4-80-sicks, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:02am

    the free products like Avast free are generally superior to the bloated intrusive big name products. I use and recommend Avast free, the only gripe I have with it is the loud update announcement that apparently can't be turned off.

    I also use avast! Antivirus. It's great! The update announcement can indeed be turned off. I'm not at home so I can't tell you exactly, but if you have merged the program and database icons into one in the notification area like I have, right click it and choose preferences or options or whatever they call it, I can't remember. There is an option in there to turn off all sounds.

    I also highly recommend not using the confusing, default skin (select "minimal" during installation...after installation, there's an option somewhere in the same place to turn it off.) With these three settings and automatic updating, avast! is the least intrusive, simplest, most pleasant free antivirus software there is, in my opinion.

    If you need paid antivirus (corporate), let me push NOD32.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Trevlac, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:21am

    You know, I really liked Trend Micro as of late 2006-2007. Their newest product is slow and buggy and now they're suing retardedly.

    See if I don't start recommending Kaspersky to my customers instead if they don't get their act together.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:21am

    techshit morons

    idiots, imbeciles, cretins, morons, changelings, half-wits, retards... er... running out of my English vocabulary...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Tony, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:28am

    Avast sounds

    hi, just wanted to let you know that with Avast you can turn the sound off. right click the icon and goto setting the sounds. and you can disable all sounds. it just make a great product better. also I hate using the home versions of Norton anymore, they are just too bloated and do slow down the computers they are on. I haven't used Mcaffee for a while. but then seem to be also bloated with bunch of extra stuff. Avast is small and works great.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Cixelsid, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:39am

    Re: techshit morons

    er... running out of my English vocabulary... Didn't take long...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Cixelsid, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:40am

    Re: Avast sounds

    WOW THANKS A WHOLE LOT NEXT CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET MY VCR TO STOP BLINKING 00:00 ???!!!111one1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Dan, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    Re: techshit morons

    Thank you for displaying your incredible lack of maturity. You also have a self-admittedly small vocabulary and an inability to express yourself rationally. You never make a valid argument, you just state supposed absolutes based on your inadequate personal experiences.

    Your opinion means next to nothing here, as you've ensured with your attitude and pathetic juvenile insults that no one will take you seriously.

    The only fathomable reason for your continued presence on the site is that you enjoy being a troll. In other words, you enjoy being a worthless annoyance.

    "idiots, imbeciles, cretins, morons, changelings, half-wits, retards"

    As for this sad excuse for an insult, you are merely reinforcing the fact that most of your posts are what would be expected by someone with a mental handicap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Haywood, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 7:48am

    Re: Avast sounds

    I tried that several versions ago, and it did nothing, so I just accepted it. I just tried it again, too early to tell if it worked, but thanks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 8:01am

    I'm not sympathetic to Barracuda

    Yes, the entire software patent thing is insane. And this is just the latest example of how broken it is.

    But Barracuda itself has behaved very poorly toward not just the open-source community, but the Internet. They may now reap some of what they've sown. Let me explain.

    Their products are comprised almost entirely of open-source software: an open-source operating system, an open-source mail server, an open-source web server, an open-source ssh server, an open-source mail content scanner, an open-source virus scanner, and so on. They also make extensive use of open data sources -- in particular, lots of blacklists maintained by other people. What they've done is to slap a (very poor) web-based GUI on it, toss it on commodity hardware, and then sell very overpriced, low-quality support. (See recent comments on slashdot by some of their customers.)

    So all the "heavy lifting" in their products, from both a software and a data source sense, is accomplished via work done by (a) the open-source community and (b) the volunteers who run blacklists. Now...as an exercise, go find some contributions back to those communities by Barracuda. Search the source code, the mailing lists, the web sites. Look for financial contributions as well, not just to support development/operation, but to defend those resources from DoS and legal attacks by spammers.

    But that's not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that Barracuda is still, years after they were not only informed of the problem but provided a simple fix for it, shipping products that make the spam problem worse. Use your favorite engine to search for "barracuda backscatter" and read what you find. This is already a large problem and it's still growing. A few recently-seen spam-sending Barracudas: barracuda.park1.k12.wy.us, barracuda.burdick.com, barracuda.patrickdelaney.net, barracuda.xxlmark etingdesign.com, barracuda.netlinkny.com. Many more -- MANY more -- may be found at www.backscatterers.com and www.backscatterer.org. Barracuda, to this day, refuses to fix this problem and as a result, is getting many of its own customers blacklisted for spamming.

    As far as I can tell, they don't care. They don't care that their products send spam, they don't care that their customers get blacklisted, all they care about is making money. Because if they did...then they would have fixed this problem the same day they were made aware of it and it wouldn't still be an irritant years later.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    another mike, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 12:35pm

    Army dropped Trend

    The US Army has dropped Trend Micro as an antivirus software provider. If Trend isn't good enough for our soldiers, it's not good enough for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    4-80-sicks, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Avast sounds

    WOW THANKS A WHOLE LOT NEXT CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET MY VCR TO STOP BLINKING 00:00 ???!!!111one1

    1.Unplug VCR
    2.Insert fork in socket

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Necroton 47, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 3:04pm

    Event horizon approaching

    It it just me or does the patent system look more and more like its approaching the Chandrasekhar limit, and going to collapse on itself leaving just a black hole?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Jim, Jan 30th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    Re: I'm not sympathetic to Barracuda

    "The biggest problem is that Barracuda is still, years after they were not only informed of the problem but provided a simple fix for it, shipping products that make the spam problem worse."

    The simple fix for the backscatter problem is for the owner of the box to turn it off. It is a two second check box. Barracuda has white papers on it, they have it in their instructions, they have stickies in all their support forums. I should know, I wrote the post that is used as the sticky.

    There is no backscatter problem from the Cuda unless the owner of the unit misconfigured it.

    However, I would like to hear the details of your 'simple fix' that they are not using. Because real time bays analysis is not 'simple'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Jan 31st, 2008 @ 3:51am

    Re: I'm not sympathetic to Barracuda

    Two points.

    First, I know about the check box. The fix isn't to recommend that customers use that to turn off backscatter; the fix is to remove the check box entirely so that it CAN'T be turned on. Ever. It's clearly irresponsible for Barracuda to continue to insist on including a "feature" whose only use is to send spam. But they have...which is why the number of spam-sending Barracudas is now measured in "thousands".

    Second, turning off that check does not stop all backscatter under all circumstances. Yep, I told them, sent 'em the logs/tcpdump. Years ago. Never heard a peep about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Andrea Diloreto, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:29pm

    barracuda`s are my favret an

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This