Fortinet ordered to suspend U.S. sales

Security vendor Fortinet has been ordered to suspend sales in the U.S. after the U.S International Trade Commission made a final ruling against it in its year-old patent infringement dispute with Trend Micro.

The disputed patent relates to elements of the antivirus engine used by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Fortinet in its FortiGate security appliances, a feature the company will now have to cease shipping to comply with the decision.

Sales of Fortinet's products outside the U.S. - said by the company to account for 70% of its business - will not be affected by the ruling. Current customers and reseller inventory will also not be affected.

The FortiGate series of gateway appliances also provides firewall, VPN, intrusion detection/prevention, Web filtering, antispam and traffic shaping, so the potential hiatus in antivirus for new customers is likely to be inconvenient rather than critical.

The company said it planned to comply with the patent within the next 60 to 90 days, updating current systems with new software. This could mean licensing technology held by Tokyo-based Trend Micro or simply rewriting the software in an unspecified way to avoid the problem.

"Fortinet firmly believes we do not infringe on Trend Micro's antivirus patent," was the defiant response from founder, president and CEO Ken Xie. "We are committed to ensuring that our U.S. business operates as usual with no impact to customers and partners, and we are confident that our forthcoming antivirus software enhancements will avoid Trend's patent," he added in a statement on the company's Web site.

Many appliance vendors use antivirus engines from Trend Micro, Symantec or McAfee (the latter two licensing elements from Trend). Fortinet was unusual in going its own way. Given reseller inventories, Fortinet will probably be able to continue to sell to new customers until those supplies are exhausted, by which time it will aim to have fixed the issue for new products.

In May, the U.S. International Trade Commission made an initial ruling against Fortinet in the case, but the latest judgment is final confirmation of that decision.

This story, "Fortinet ordered to suspend U.S. sales" was originally published by Techworld.com.

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