After Settling Suit With Trend Micro, Fortinet Focuses On IM Security

Fortinet, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor of unified threat management appliances, and Cupertino, Calif.-based Trend Micro said last week that they had settled the lawsuit in which Trend Micro claimed that Fortinet violated its antivirus patents.

The resolution of the case should help Fortinet get back to focusing on its business, solution providers said.

“The lawsuit caused a disruption in their business,” said Rick Marine, president of Century Computers in Honolulu. “Their responsiveness to customers has not been happening as a result.”

Marine said he is glad the patent issue is settled, but he is still leery. “It&'s hard to say what&'s going to happen,” he said. “My customers don&'t seem to be too concerned, but I&'m going to be conservative and see what happens. It should be good in the long run, but it&'s been a distraction, and they have lost momentum.”

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The case came to a head in August, when the U.S. International Trade Commission ordered Fortinet to stop selling products that contained its antivirus software. The order stemmed from an earlier ruling that Fortinet&'s antivirus software violated a Trend Micro patent.

Fortinet in October released new antivirus software using a different approach that it claimed avoided Trend Micro&'s patent, and Fortinet began shipping new products into the United States again.

Under last week's settlement, Fortinet will reinstate some of the features that were under contention, including antispam tagging and a non-splice mode e-mail buffering feature. The reinstated features will be part of the upcoming firmware upgrade, FortiOS 3.0, as will the enhanced features included in the October release. The upgrade, scheduled for March, will also include brand new features, including content protection for instant messaging.

Securing instant messaging fits well into Fortinet&'s FortiGate UTM appliance, which also features firewall, VPN, antivirus and antispyware, said Chris Roeckl, Fortinet&'s vice president of marketing.

“Hackers are using IM as a new platform to launch attacks,” Roeckl said. “It&'s not as safe as it used to be.”

Protecting IM is a growing concern because IM is now being used to send sensitive data, said James Volpe, president of Corsa Network Technologies, a security systems integrator in Campbell, Calif. “I have customers that use IM for a variety of reasons,” Volpe said. “Engineers will even send code over IM.”