U.S. court orders Symantec to pay $17 mln for patent infringement

(Reuters) - Symantec Corp, maker of the popular Norton antivirus software, was ordered to pay $17 million in damages on Friday after a federal jury in Delaware found it had violated two patents owned by Intellectual Ventures, a major patent licensing company.

The damages award was far less than the $298 million Intellectual Ventures had been seeking. The jury also cleared Symantec of infringing a third patent.

The verdict is a blow to Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec. It also confirmed the validity of the patents and strengthens Intellectual Ventures’ track record in court. The multibillion-dollar company has become one of the biggest patent owners in the world and only recently began suing companies in addition to its longtime strategy of licensing its wide array of patents.

Melissa Finocchio, chief litigation counsel for Intellectual Ventures, said in a statement the company was grateful that the jury confirmed the validity of its patents.

“We remain committed to defending inventor rights and protecting the interests of our investors and customers,” she said.

A Symantec spokesman said the company was pleased the jury awarded much less than what Intellectual Ventures was seeking and was considering options to further reduce the damages.

An Intellectual Ventures spokeswoman declined to comment on the damages figure. In pre-trial arguments, Symantec tried, unsuccessfully, to bar the company from seeking hundreds of millions in damages on a patent it acquired for less than $1 million.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Intellectual Ventures, accused Symantec in 2010 of infringing its intellectual property with the security software company’s email and Internet protection products, including Norton antivirus.

Intellectual Ventures sued three other firms at the same time. Only Symantec and Japan’s Trend Micro Inc chose not to settle.

Friday’s verdict will likely have a bearing on Trend Micro’s trial, which is scheduled to begin in May.

The case is Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corp, No. 10-cv-01067, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.