Encryption vendor files patent lawsuit against tech giants

TecSec, an encryption vendor based in McLean, Virginia, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against several large tech vendors, including IBM, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, eBay, Oracle and Adobe Systems.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, claims that the companies have infringed 11 of TecSec's patents covering encryption technology used by the defendants' customers to protect commercial data, such as credit card information and health care information.

The defendants have earned billions of dollars of revenue through the unauthorized use of TecSec's patents in several database management systems, servers and other products, the lawsuit alleges. The projects infringing the patents include IBM's DB2 and WebSphere application server and Oracle's application server and database systems, the company said in a press release.

The lawsuit asks the court to bar the defendants from selling any products using TecSec's patents.

"TecSec has suffered irreparable harm by the defendants' unauthorized sale of systems and methods covered by its patents," said Brian Buroker, of the Hunton & Williams law firm and lead counsel to TecSec, in a statement. "The defendants have earned billions of dollars selling, supporting, and providing consulting services for products that incorporate TecSec's technology without providing any compensation. This suit seeks justified redress for TecSec."

TecSec was founded in 1990 by Ed Scheidt, former chairman of the CIA's Cryptographic Center. Scheidt serves as the company's chief scientist.

A TecSec representative didn't immediately respond to a phone message and an e-mail message asking for details about the lawsuit and the patents that TecSec alleges have been infringed. The company lists 31 patents that it's been granted.

However, last April, TecSec filed a lawsuit against Microsoft alleging infringement of some of the same patents. The two companies settled in September, TecSec said in its press release.

In that lawsuit, TecSec alleged infringement of four patents related to a distributed cryptographic object method.

Scheidt "created TecSec to build a software security system that transparently and conveniently enforced business environment requirements in large network situations," according to the complaint in the Microsoft lawsuit. "TecSec focused its development efforts on sub-file encryption and object management, which it viewed key methods of protecting data. TecSec pioneered systems and methods to encrypt and control access on an object level, in contrast to the then-prevalent focus on perimeter security such as firewalls."

Among the patents TecSec holds: one for electronically signing a document, for multiple-factor-based user identification and authentication, for an XML encryption scheme, for a voice and data encryption device, and for a PC access control system.

Representatives of Cisco, Oracle, IBM and eBay didn't immediately return e-mail messages asking for comments on the lawsuit.

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