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U.S. court dismisses Symantec lawsuit against Veeam

A U.S. district court ends the patent lawsuit that Symantec, now Veritas, brought against Veeam four years ago. The court dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice.

Veeam Software has won its four-year patent infringement legal battle against Veritas Technologies, which began before Symantec sold off its Veritas storage business.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last week dismissed all eight asserted patent cases that Veritas brought against Veeam.

The Symantec lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, and the U.S. District Court terminated the case. Veritas split from Symantec early this year when the privately owned Carlyle Group purchased Veritas from the security giant.

"It's not unheard of in our industry for 'traditional' vendors to fear change and for them to abuse the legal system in a vain attempt to stifle innovation and protect their legacy business," said Veeam CEO William Largent. "Over the past four years, Veeam Software has stood its ground in contesting these unfounded claims. I truly believe that our case sends a clear message to the market that innovators such as Veeam will not be bullied by assumed 'established' vendors."

The lawsuit initially was brought on by security vendor Symantec, which had acquired data protection specialist Veritas in 2005 for $13.5 billion in stock. 

In May 2015, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invalidated the final four patents in the Symantec lawsuit against Veeam, making it difficult for the larger company to win its suit against a smaller vendor. The USPTO concluded patent claims that Symantec asserted against Veeam were invalid.

Symantec lawsuit filings claim the vendor was first

Symantec filed two lawsuits in 2012 in the Northern California court claiming Veeam's software infringed on seven Symantec storage, restore and backup patents. While preparing its court defense, Veeam had also challenged the validity of the patents. The USPTO agreed with Veeam that the patents were obvious or anticipated by prior art, which means the technology involved was known or used before a patent was obtained.

Veritas was one of the earliest players in backup and data protection, particularly in the days of personal computing and distributed server computing with its Backup Exec and enterprise-level NetBackup software. Veeam was one of the earliest vendors to capitalize on backup and disaster recovery in the server virtualization market.

Veeam made a successful business of selling backup software for virtual machines since 2008, but Symantec portrayed itself as a pioneer of virtual server backup in its court filing. Symantec accused Veeam of causing price erosion and diminished profits for Symantec by selling products that incorporated the plaintiff's technology without paying to develop or license it.

"One area in which Symantec has led innovation is the provision of data protection for virtual server environments," Symantec said in its complaint against Veeam. "Symantec has developed and incorporated tools into NetBackup, Backup Exec and its other storage products that allow native backup, restoration and management of virtual machines on VMware's vSphere and Microsoft's Hyper-V. These tools allow enterprises to use a single, integrated platform for backing up physical and virtual machines."

In the Symantec lawsuit filing, the vendor had claimed it became the first to offer granular file recovery for virtual machines when it added the feature to NetBackup 6.5 in 2007.

In the Symantec lawsuit filing, the vendor had claimed it became the first to offer granular file recovery for virtual machines when it added the feature to NetBackup 6.5 in 2007. It also said Backup Exec was the first backup application released by a "major market provider" to include virtual machine backup, storage and replication for Hyper-V, and it introduced granular file recovery for Hyper-V and Backup Exec 12.5 in September 2008.

The company also claimed its unique features for virtual machine backup today include single-pass backup, agentless backup of virtual machines, full and granular file-level recovery, and "systemwide, version-wide deduplication."

Largent said the patent lawsuit was baseless, portraying it as a way for a traditional technology company to bully a newer vendor. He said Veeam has expanded and is on track for $1 billion in revenues by 2018, mainly in the backup and replication market.

Veritas' response and future

Veritas responded to the lawsuit results in an email. 

"It is not uncommon for large technology companies to have claims around intellectual property. Veritas invests deeply in research, engineering and talent. We will continue to defend our investments and technology, where necessary," the company said. "This does not affect our market standing or leadership position in the backup and recovery software business. However, what we focus on every day is delivering value to our customers and partners to help them transform to digital businesses."

Since splitting from Symantec, Veritas is focusing on rebuilding after spending several years in a company that didn't fully integrate Veritas' technology with the security side of the house. Veritas recently held its first conference since the Symantec split and announced its plans to expand into a broader data management platform that incorporates physical, virtual and cloud environments.

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