Symantec files frivilous lawsuit against Veeam and Acronis

Symantec filed a lawsuit against both Veeam and Acronis claiming “patent infrigement” and loss of business.

Full disclosure, I know a good number of people who work at Veeam. I also was a participant at their recent Sales Kickoff as part of a customer panel. I have used Veeam Backup and Recovery since 2010 in my environment, as well as Veeam Monitor and Reporter. I have also used vRanger, Backup Exec, Netbackup, Arcserve and Tivoli Storage Manager over the course of my career.

That said, it wouldn’t matter who this lawsuit was filed against, my opinion would be no different, Symantec’s claims are wholly without merit, and frankly reek of a company that is desperate to remain relevant in a growing sector where their market share has decreased significantly, not because of “Patent Infringement” but because their product in its current incarnation is bloated, expensive, inefficient. Much like their entire Anti-Virus suite.

Digging into the complaint, lets look at this passage:

page 7 lines 27-28 page 8 lines 1-2

“among the features necessary to perform state-of-the art backups and recoveries in a virtual environment include (i) backing-up and imaging virtual machines, (ii) restoring imaged data on the same and different computer systems, and (iii) use of an effective user interface to manage system backups. All of these features involve use of Symantec innovations.

No, all of these features are part and parcel of EVERY backup software on the market today.

 Chris Mellor over at El Reg dug into the patents:

  • Symantec’s ‘517 patent covers backup data being restored to a different hardware configuration from the source hardware
  • The ‘086 patent refers to a virtual machine backup going to a different storage device than the one used by the VM
  • A ‘365 patent covers storing backup data in the same storage partition as the source data and restoring from it
  • The ‘655 patent refers to constructing a catalogue of backed up data
  • Symantec’s ‘010 patent is about a backup and restore GUI that enables simultaneous viewing of the contents of a computer that has been backed up and the destination computer for a restoration.

Hmm do any of those things sound familiar? Uh yeah, because every backup program I’ve ever dealt with has one or all of those in one form or another. And lets not forget, VMware themselves provide many of the same feature sets, wonder why Symantec isn’t suing them, or Comvault, IBM, Quest, CA, etc. etc. etc. ? One can only guess.

Pure speculation on my part time:

My guess is that Symantec has made a play to buy either Veeam or Acronis and were rebuffed. This fits the Symantec (as well as Quests) growth model, buy what you cannot internally innovate; buy those who have a customer base that you haven’t completely alienated. Now I could be 100% wrong, weirder shit has happened, but I don’t see this ending well for Symantec. In fact, what I do see happening is a further sense of distrust and disgust within the generalized IT community towards Symantec.

As it stands right now, in my view: Symantec is reeling as of late due to their source code being leaked online for their anti-virus and PC Anywhere software, not to mention the fact that they were caught working with some nefarious government agencies to provide backdoors into their product line for government snooping, as well as claims that they have tried to bribe those responsible for the source code leaks. All of that bad press does a lot to depress share prices.

But also, what it all boils down to is a sad and pathetic attempt to  bully smaller companies into submission. If I believed that Symantecs claims had any merit, I would say so, but when you dig into their claims, they are so astonishingly stupid that I fail to comprehend how anyone could not look at this on its face and not simply laugh.

I know some people who are not laughing though, the people at Veeam and Acronis who have to defend against this crap.

Editing to add:

Howard Marks makes the very valid point that Patents are not Copywrites.

The primary flaw is you’re argument that the technologies covered by these patents are pretty much standard TODAY so the patents must be invalid. Today doesn’t matter. If Symantec got a patent 12 years ago the patent s valid if it was non-trivial and new AT THE TIME.

Unlike copyrights which require copying for violation patents are absolute. If I patent something and you independently invent it AT THE SAME TIME but don’t reveal it to the pubic until after my patent application is accepted I have the right to sell it and you don’t.

This is true. Though I will say, that its unfathomable to me that Symantec is just now realizing that Veeam, and Acronis are infringing upon their IP. Furthermore, where is the suits against Quest for vRanger and PHD Virtual?

But seriously look at patent 7,322,010, which is related to “using a graphical user interface to map computer resources”, you know how much software falls under this?

Edit #2: I’ve read through the patent itself and realized that even VMware Converter is in violation, not to mention pretty much any piece of software that images a computer and then allows you to alter the image when re-deploying it.

A computer accessible storage medium comprising a plurality of instructions which, when executed:  present a graphical view of a first computer system configuration comprising a first plurality of computer system resources; concurrent with presenting the graphical view of the first computer system configuration, present a graphical view of a second computer system configuration comprising a second plurality of computer system resources; provide a mechanism to capture data representing at least a first resource of the first plurality of computer system resources from the first computer system configuration and insert the data in the second computer system configuration; and provide an automatic mapping of resources from the first computer system configuration to the second computer system configuration, wherein the first computer system configuration corresponds to a backed-up computer system and the second computer system configuration corresponds to a computer system that the backup is being restored to.

 

Edit #3: I knew someone would be able to dig this up, because I was positive that Veritas/Symantec was not the first group to do VM backups: @jmattox (Jason Mattox co-founder of vizioncore) tweeted: esxRanger was backing up virtual machines as far back as 2004

 

3 thoughts on “Symantec files frivilous lawsuit against Veeam and Acronis

  1. February 17, 2012 at 6:57 am

    While I can certianly agree there are problems with the patent system today. and as an old timer would rather go back to the days when software couldn’t be patented just copyrighted, there are several significant flaws in your argument.

    The primary flaw is you’re argument that the technologies covered by these patents are pretty much standard TODAY so the patents must be invalid. Today doesn’t matter. If Symantec got a patent 12 years ago the patent s valid if it was non-trivial and new AT THE TIME.

    Unlike copyrights which require copying for violation patents are absolute. If I patent something and you independently invent it AT THE SAME TIME but don’t reveal it to the pubic until after my patent application is accepted I have the right to sell it and you don’t.

    Companies, especially large ones, have their reasons for choosing defendants. It’s highly likely that CA, EMCl and IBM also have patents on features we would consider standard today so Symantec has cross licensing agreements with them.

    1. admin
      February 17, 2012 at 7:08 am

      Those are valid points, and I could understand a possible cross agreement between say IBM, CA, VMware. Curious about PHD Virtual and Quest who have similar competitive products in the same space.

      I do question the timing of this. Veeam’s been in operation for years, same with Acronis. Its not like they suddenly started putting out products today. These are mature products in their 5th/6th iteration and the underlying technologies being used have not changed significantly. For me the larger issue is that if you are going to quibble about your patent there should be some statue of limitations. So if you don’t file a complaint within a set time span then you have no right to claim infringement. It’s not like Symantec is just now hearing of Veeam. Perhaps they are butthurt since they have taken their crown the last two VMworlds as the backup/recovery product of choice for the VMworld voters.

      That said you are indeed right, the bigger part of the problem is with the patent system itself.

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