Intellectual Ventures beats Symantec in court. Who else might be affected?

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Arstechnica has today reported that Intellectual Ventures has just successfully asserted two of its patents in litigation against Symantec. These two patents were part of a trio of patents asserted in the same litigation, namely: 

  • US5987610Computer virus screening methods and systems, filed in 1998. This has an AmberScore value (predicted patent importance) of 18.0, which is excellent and much higher than the average AmberScore value of 1.0 for granted US patents. The AmberScope network for this patent can be found here, and this shows how it fits in the centre of a large network.
  • US6073142Automated post office based rule analysis of e-mail messages and other data objects for controlled distribution in network environments, filed in 1997. AmberScore value of 29.6.
  • US646050Distributed content identification system, filed 1999. AmberScore value of 21.1.

While the ‘050 patent was not found to be infringed, it was found to be valid.

Now that all of these patents have been found be valid (and two of them infringed), it is worthwhile asking who else might be affected by this judgement. One way of doing this is to apply the new Ambercite technique of  Cluster Searching, which looks for later filed patents that are similar overall to a cluster of patents, namely the three patents discussed above. A later filed patent which is similar suggests that the company which filed the later patent may be working in a similar area and may, subject to the usual careful infringement analysis, require a license to one or more of the cluster of patents. 

In addition, for each patent found we could determine its Licensing Potential, based on a combination of its similarity score to the above patents (as determined by our analysis) and the AmberScore, or predicted importance of the patent found.

This is a straightforward process using our new cluster searching software, which will shortly be available online to our clients.

And what did we find? We can answer this question in a couple of ways.

 

Which similar and later patents suggest the greatest licensing potential for the trio of Intellectual Ventures patents?

The 10 most similar and later patents that suggest the greatest licensing potential from the cluster of patents were as listed below:

Ranking

Patent & Filing year

Listed owner

Title

Similarity score

AmberScore (Predicted importance)

Licensing potential

1

US7953814 (2006)

INTEL (MCAFEE)

Stopping and remediating outbound messaging abuse

218.5

5.1

33.5

2

US6052709 (1997)

SYMANTEC

Apparatus and method for controlling delivery of unsolicited electronic mail

13.5

54.7

27.2

3

US6321267

(1999)

ESCOM CORP

Method and apparatus for filtering junk email

12

32.7

19.8

4

US7149778 (2001)

YAHOO

Unsolicited electronic mail reduction

39.5

8.2

18.0

5

US6199102 (1997)

SERIES 42 OF ALLIED SECURITY TRUST I

Method and system for filtering electronic messages

10

28.6

16.9

6

US5999932 (1998)

SYMANTEC

System and method for filtering unsolicited electronic mail messages using data matching and heuristic processing

6

38.8

15.3

7

US7725605 (2004)

SALESFORCE.COM

Providing on-demand access to services in a wide area network

21

11.0

15.2

8

US8255370 (2011)

SYMANTEC

Method and apparatus for detecting policy violations in a data repository having an arbitrary data schema

34

5.7

13.9

9

US7721328 (2004)

SALESFORCE.COM

Application identity design

28.5

6.5

13.6

10

US7249175 (2000)

ESCOM CORP

Method and system for blocking e-mail having a nonexistent sender address

12

13.9

12.9

 

This shows that the patent suggesting the greatest licensing potential is filed by Intel (in fact filed by MacAfee, which is now owned by Intel). Symantec had the second and sixth ranked patents in the top ten lists, Salesforce.com and a little known company called Escom Corporation also had two patents in this top 10 list.

 

Which companies might have the most similar overall groups of patents to the three Intellectual Ventures patents?

We can also look at overall licensing potential based on the sum of the licensing potentials (for their individual patents) from the three IV patents. To make this manageable, we have restricted this analysis to the most similar 3000 patents to these three patents. The results are shown in the figure below:

 

IV-licensing-study_20150211-002256_1.jpg

This suggests that, besides Symantec, Intel, Microsoft, IBM and a number of other companies may be exploiting similar technologies to the trio of IV patents discussed above. Of course, to move from the analytical observation to an allegation of infringement requires the careful study of a suitable qualified patent specialist, but this type of analysis can guide you to where these specialists might start looking.

In addition there are a number of other analyses that we could make from this type of data, but this provide a taste of what is possible. 

 

How does cluster searching working?

Cluster searching is based on applying Ambercite’s similarity searching algorithms to a group of ‘seed’ patents to find the most similar patent to this group. These similarity algorithms in turn are based on citation analysis. Ambercite believes in the information value of patent citations because each citation is an opinion from an expert (patent examiner or applicant) that two patents are similar. In addition, Ambercite builds on this value using advanced algorithms that apply the principles of collective wisdom to weight each opinion. 

Can we trust such algorithms?  Algorithms based on collective wisdom are used billions of times every day by Google to rank search queries, Amazon to suggest book recommendations, and Facebook and Linked In to suggest friends. In our case we like to believe that our results speak for themselves. 

 

Access to cluster searching

Ambercite will shortly make cluster searching available online to interested clients, and we invite applications from patent owners, attorneys and analysts who will be interested in a commercial trial of this technology. In addition, cluster searching is also being provided as a service, and is being used for clients interested in patentability, novelty and licensing searches.

If you are interested in either the commercial trial or cluster searches, please contact us for further details.

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