[ISN] McAfee wins patent for online services system

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Aug 07 2001 - 03:09:38 PDT

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    By MAY WONG, Associated Press 
    SAN JOSE, Calif. (August 7, 2001 12:38 a.m. EDT) - McAfee.com Corp.
    has won a patent for its system of delivering computer security
    software and related services through the Internet, giving it a leg up
    in the emerging trend of subscription-based software.
    "This doesn't close the door for competitors, it simply sets some
    boundaries for them," said Harry Fenik, chief executive officer of the
    Sageza Group, a market research firm.
    Unlike like its rivals, which sell boxes of software and make
    customers do their own installations, Sunnyvale-based McAfee delivers
    all of its virus-protection and PC-management software via the
    Internet. McAfee also does the technical work and continued
    maintenance for its customers' desktop computers remotely via its Web
    site - all on a subscription basis.
    The patent, issued July 24 by the U.S. Patent Office, covers the
    technology behind McAfee's system, what co-inventor Srivats Sampath
    calls the company's "secret sauce," as well as its subscription-based
    business model, the company said Monday. McAfee applied for the patent
    in 1998.
    "The future of software is really going to be delivered as Web
    services and we have a component of that," said Sampath, McAfee's
    president and chief executive officer. "The patent is a way to protect
    our investment."
    No known competitor delivers a comparable product or service today,
    Fenik said, but it may only be a matter of time before others follow
    suit. Microsoft Corp. and other types of software vendors are already
    testing the concept of charging ongoing online subscriptions instead
    of collecting one-time package fees.
    And now, any company or so-called application service provider looking
    to offer subscription- and Web-based software specifically in the
    security and PC-management arena "will have to tread carefully" to not
    infringe on McAfee's patent, or decide to pay McAfee licensing fees,
    Fenik said.
    "If they don't want to work with us, they could engineer around the
    patent," Sampath said.
    It's too early to say whether McAfee would sue potential violators,
    Sampath said, but "we will be sensitive to someone willfully flaunting
    the technology."
    McAfee, a majority-owned subsidiary of Network Associates, targets
    consumers and small businesses. It has more than 1 million paid
    subscribers and earned $46.9 million in fiscal year 2000.
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