(Adds comment from Intellectual Venturesl, Trend Micro)
By Andrew Chung
NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has invalidated two patents owned by Intellectual Ventures just weeks before its lawsuit against Japanese security software provider Trend Micro Inc over the same patents was set to go to trial.
U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in Delaware said on Wednesday the two patents were too abstract to deserve legal protection.
The ruling likely means Intellectual Ventures’ infringement trial with Trend Micro will not proceed.
It will also likely reduce the $17 million verdict Intellectual Ventures won in February against Symantec Corp , maker of the popular Norton antivirus software. The jury in that case said Symantec infringed two Intellectual Ventures patents, including one that was invalidated on Wednesday.
The ruling came after Trend Micro and Symantec asked Stark to analyze the patents, which relate to email and software security, to determine whether they were eligible under current U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
Stark agreed with the companies that they were not. However, he upheld the validity of a third patent, which is not at issue in the Trend Micro trial.
Intellectual Ventures accused Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec and Trend Micro in 2010 of infringing its intellectual property with their email and Internet protection products.
The company, headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., 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 intellectual property.
Trend Micro senior vice president Felix Sterling said in a statement to Reuters that the company was “appreciative of today’s vindication.”
Intellectual Ventures said it was considering an appeal of the ruling.
The cases are Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corp, and v. Trend Micro, Inc, Nos. 10-1067, and 12-1581 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. (Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Christian Plumb, Alexia Garamfalvi, Andrew Hay and Andre Grenon)