Tech firm granted anti-malware patent despite challenge from rival
A British technology firm has been granted a UK patent for an anti-malware system despite claims that similar techniques already existed.
The High Court ruled that the method developed by Glasswall (IP) Ltd (2018) demonstrated an inventive step and was valid.
The patent described a method of resisting the spread of unwanted code and data in electronic files, including emails, by "parsing" (reading in a logical order) and regeneration. In effect, it meant breaking down an incoming file, extracting its content and rebuilding it so that only "good" code was passed on to the recipient; any "bad" code was left behind.
The patent also included a threat filter that allowed through files which could not be parsed or regenerated if the sender and file type appeared on a safe list.
Clearswift Ltd challenged the validity of the patent, claiming that it lacked inventive step over an existing US patent for a method of preventing exploitation of email messages by dissecting and reassembling them, and a series of posts on an internet bulletin board about anti-virus technology.
The court ruled in favour of Glasswall. It said the rapid increase in internet use in the 1990s had led to an increase in the proliferation of malware, including computer viruses. This in turn had led to a proliferation of anti-malware software to combat it.
Having heard the evidence, the judge was satisfied that parsing and regeneration, which were key elements of the patent, were not found in existing systems.
Please contact Jon Alvarez for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of patents and protecting intellectual property.