Columbia University Awarded $185 Million for Patent Infringement by NortonLifeLock Inc.
A federal jury today awarded Columbia University more than $185 million in damages after finding that NortonLifeLock Inc. willfully and literally infringed two patents related to groundbreaking cybersecurity safeguards invented by Columbia professors.
The unanimous verdict followed a two-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in a case brought by Columbia in December 2013. The jury awarded Columbia $185,112,727 in reasonable royalties on the two patents through February 28 of this year. Its finding of willful and literal infringement means the Court also has discretion to treble the damages.
The trial focused on whether Norton infringed two patents and had fraudulently concealed its filing of a third patent for technology developed by Columbia professors Salvatore Stolfo and Angelos Keromytis of the University’s Intrusion Detection Systems Laboratory (“IDS Lab”). While the jury did not find that Norton fraudulently filed the third patent, it did find that Professors Stolfo and Keromytis were co-inventors of that patent along with Darren Shou of Norton.
“We are pleased that the Court has recognized NortonLifeLock’s violations of Columbia University’s intellectual property rights to groundbreaking computer security innovations, made possible by the work of professors and researchers in Columbia’s IDS Lab,” said Orin Herskowitz, senior vice president of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer at Columbia University. “Research universities play a critical role in developing pioneering technologies that benefit society. Columbia is committed to ensuring that innovations in the laboratory are brought to the market and the role of Columbia researchers is recognized and appreciated. The patented technology changed the way we detect malicious malware and increased the safety of individuals’, companies’ and the U.S. government’s computers at a critical time when traditional malware detection was failing.”
Columbia is committed to ensuring that innovations in the laboratory are brought to the market and the role of Columbia researchers is recognized and appreciated.
Professors Stolfo and Keromytis, along with research scientist Stelios Sidiroglou, invented the patented computer security technologies at issue, which Columbia argued are used in Norton consumer and business malware detection products, including its Norton Antivirus internet security suite. The technologies can effectively distinguish normal computer operations from anomalous or malicious behaviors—even if a malicious program has never been seen before—and rapidly and efficiently share information about detected intrusions across communities of users. The professors also developed an innovative strategy for using so-called “decoys” in detecting and thwarting viruses and other malicious intrusions.
“I am extremely grateful to the members of the jury for achieving this just result; I feel vindicated,” said Professor Stolfo, who leads the IDS Lab and holds approximately 100 patents for his work. “While it is disappointing that a company would repeatedly take our inventions for their own benefit, the heart of my lab is the students and staff, and I am gratified that the award will help support their important work.”
“I am extremely grateful to the members of the jury for achieving this just result; I feel vindicated.”
Once disbursed, Columbia intends to provide a share of the award to the inventors and use the remaining proceeds to fund education and further life-enhancing research initiatives. Prior patent licensing revenue has been used, for instance, to help establish Columbia's Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, a world-class center for research into the human brain whose work ranges from studies on Alzheimer’s disease and autism to how human beings make decisions. Past patent revenue has also helped support cutting-edge climate research, early warning signs for epileptic seizures and reducing infant colic.
The IDS Lab at Columbia University conducts research into anomaly detection, collaborative intrusion detection, attacker modeling, malicious code and secure wireless networks. With the goal of building next-generation tools to detect stealthy and malicious intruders in computer systems, the IDS Lab has developed a number of technologies that have been successfully commercialized and deployed to protect network infrastructure.
Columbia University was represented by Garrard Beeney and Dustin Guzior at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Dana McDaniel and John Erbach at Spotts Fain PC.