Fortinet is expected Monday to announce new antivirus technology it claims will put the shadow of recent Trend Micro patent litigation behind the security upstart.
The U.S. International Trade Commission in August ordered Fortinet to stop selling products that contain its antivirus software. The ITC’s order stems from an earlier ruling that Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Fortinet's antivirus software violates a Trend Micro patent dealing with scanning for viruses at the gateway.
That ruling stirred the channel, leaving VARs with FortiGate in their inventory wondering if they could sell it and putting many customers into a holding pattern.
Fortinet executives claim the new antivirus technology, which will ship on all of its FortiGate all-in-one security appliances and be available for download as a maintenance release Monday, avoids Trend Micro's patent claims and advances the security its appliances provide.
Anthony James, the senior product manager at Fortinet who headed up the development effort on the new technology, said Fortinet's new approach scans all e-mail files in real time, against both a traditional virus signature list and a new "hot list" of the 10 to 20 most active viruses and worms. The hot list disassociates the scan from file types, making it more likely to catch a variant of a new worm, James said.
The new antivirus technology also now scans e-mails as each object is completed rather than waiting for the entire message to be buffered before initiating a scan, James said. Fortinet has applied for a patent of this "real-time" antivirus scanning, he added.
The new antivirus approach should put the Trend Micro issue behind Fortinet, said Mike Bramm, CTO of CompuNet International, a regional VAR based in Minneapolis. "We have had some customers who love the product but have been in a holding pattern since that ruling," Bramm said. "But this will take care of it. We can get back to business with a company that makes a great product."
But Steve Barone, president of Creative Breakthroughs, a Shelby Township, Mich., solution provider, said he was "leary and skeptical."
"Just a week-and-a-half ago they told me they were very close to cutting a deal with Trend Micro to license the antivirus, so this sounds like Plan B to me," Barone said. "We have sold a lot of Fortinet, but that shut down when this ruling came out."
Barone added that he had hoped Fortinet and Trend Micro would come to an agreement. "Having Trend's Antivirus technology on those boxes gave customers confidence," he said. "That was part of the sale."