Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Columbia U wins $185M in infringement case against NortonLifeLock 

By David Schwartz
Published: May 11th, 2022

A federal jury has awarded Columbia University more than $185 million in damages after finding that NortonLifeLock Inc. infringed two patents related to groundbreaking cybersecurity safeguards invented by Columbia researchers.

The verdict in the trial, in a case brought by Columbia nearly a decade ago, including not only the monetary award but also a finding of willful and literal infringement, allowing the Court discretion to treble the damages.

Norton was accused on infringing the two patents and concealing its filing of a third patent for technology developed by Columbia professors in the school’s Intrusion Detection Systems Laboratory (IDS Lab). While the jury did not find that Norton fraudulently filed the third patent, it did find that two Columbia researchers were co-inventors of that patent, along with a Norton employee.

Columbia had sought a royalty of as much as $228.2 million from Norton’s billions in global sales during the period since the infringed patents were incorporate into Norton products, including its AntiVirus, Internet Security, 360, and Security families; and from the Symantec-branded Endpoint Protection family.

“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, Columbia’s senior vice president of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer. “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.”

Columbia plans to provide a share of the award to the inventors and use the remaining proceeds to fund education and further life-enhancing research initiatives.

Norton said in a statement that it would appeal the verdict. A spokesperson said the company “strongly” believes “our technology does not infringe on patents held by Columbia.”

Sources: Columbia News and Bloomberg Law

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