back to article Symantec sues rivals in backup patents spat

It's war: big backup beast Symantec is suing upstart competitors Acronis and Veeam, accusing them of infringing its patents and getting a free ride using Symantec technology. It wants jury trials, cessation of infringing product sales and damages. The cited patents deal with backup and replication - see if you can recognise …


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  1. Scott Mckenzie



    If they really have those patents then surely no-one can offer a B&R Solution that works well without paying them a royalty?

    Maybe Symantec should consider the fact that their software is both bloated and hideously expensive and their support is beyond useless as more likely reasons for their profits falling?

    Veeam is a beautifully simple yet incredibly powerful product and i love it! It was setup and fully functional in about 15 minutes.... Symantec took 7 weeks of toing and froing with their support before I gave up, got a refund and discovered Veeam!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously...

      "If they really have those patents then surely no-one can offer a B&R Solution that works well without paying them a royalty?"

      That's the problem with patents....You simply cannot sum up what a patent is in a couple of lines, you can only give a general overview of what the patent refers to (as the author has done).

      The more general a patents scope the more likely the application will be rejected, usually because it crosses into someone elses patent, on the other side of the coin is the fact that if you make your patent too specific then someone can come along, change one part of your product and then use and patent that change (with the rest of the product identical) for themselves with out having to pay you. That is why I don't think that Symantic have a patent covering the general "storing backup data in the same storage partition as the source data and restoring from it" but probably do have a patent covering their specific method of achieving that goal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously...

      If it takes you seven weeks to not be able to setup NetBackup or BackupExec you've got a serious problem and it's not the software.

      Sure NetBackup is a large package, but I wouldn't say that it's bloated when you look at what it can achieve. It's certainly leagues ahead of Veem, even if you just consider its VMware backup ability.

      1. Scott Mckenzie

        Re: Re: Seriously...

        I wasn't spending 24/7 on it... but there were a number of issues going back and forward between myself and Symantec, with them logging on remotely to do a lot of the work. It appeared to be as simple as setup, install some crappy update system, apply 300 updates, add a backup to disc destination and go from there - which took about 4 hours. If it had of worked, then great.... but it didn't. They decided we hadn't bought the right licenses and advised us new ones, they added them and it still didn't work, they then decided the licenses were still wrong... They were creating logon scripts, adjusting group policies etc to try and get it to work and in the end they couldn't. I'm fairly sure you can see why i hold them in such high regard and rate their support up there with the very best.

        Conversely, on the same system Veeam took me 15 minutes to get up and running and hasn't missed a beat since. It was also half the price.

        For our needs Veeam is great... for others they may need other functionality.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I patented taking 1's and 0's putting then somewhere else for later use

    As such, my patent covers EVERY backup product ever invented, and all future backup products that will be invented.

    I intend to sue Symantec, Veritas, Legato, Acronis and make BILLIONS.... Billions I tell you. Mwuhahaha.

    You think I'm mad - this is what patent lawyers do! Bastards!

  3. Bakunin

    Dear Symantec

    I assume you're unaware of mv, cp, dd, tar, rsync and the various forms of pipe and output redirection?

    Just thought I'd let you know before you make a complete fool of yourself in front of all your customers.


    A now very much ex-customer in the enterprise world.

  4. Graham Wilson

    Hell, when are these patent wars going to end.

    It's the 2nd patent article today. They're becoming so nauseating they've almost put me off reading about them.

    Fact 1: patent law is stuffed almost everywhere. (Reckon I'll patent the way I cough to prove it.)

    Fact 2: governments seem incapable of fixing the problem because there's too much money at stake.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Articles like these...

    Make me really happy not to live and work in the States.

    Once these companies are done destroying the competition then what's next? Could it be possible that... "Wow, that small consultancy firm provides restoration solutions for its customers. I bet the bastard is restoring that data onto new hardware, probably stuff he sold himself. We'll sue!".

  6. Is it me?


    El reg could help us all out with our understanding of the stupidity of this kind of legal action. Please can we have an article or two on:

    W=Who, in this case

    WTF - Vets these patent application, in what way are they qualified to assess them.

    WTF - Applies for the patents, how long have they been working in the industry?

    WTF- Starts the actions, do they know how computers work?

    WTF - Judges these, how much experiance in computing d o they have.

    Having said that, I suspect that Symantec through Norton and Veritas do own an awful lot of patents. I also suspect that an awful lot of prior art has been forgotten as various OS and hardware solutions have fallen by the wayside.

  7. Eradicate all BB entrants

    They shouldn't worry ....

    ..... if the judge presiding requires those patents to be in use as Symantec haven't made an effective or useful backup product in years. Just hearing their name and backup in the same article takes me back to the days when it was less hassle and in the long run cheaper to just have a second Novell server on hand then trying to use backup exec on one :|

  8. Kurgan


    Software Patents: a complete failure. That's all.

  9. croaker

    Previous Art

    Didn't Laplink did most of that a very, very long time ago? Was that a Norton/Symantec product?

    Along with Bakunin's list (see above) there must be prior art...


    Acronis et-al should just pull out of the US market until it's populance realises what a crock those Software Patents are.

  10. Andrew Jones 2

    re: the patent system

    The Patent system is not just broke - it is now beyond a joke - here is the proof that was brought to my attention a few days ago.

    This patent - discusses how to shine a laser on a wall and move it about to "exercise a cat" and "entertain the owner" - this patent was granted in 1995 meaning that everyone since 1995 who has ever done this could potentially be sued......

  11. Keep Refrigerated

    If this doesn't demonstrate what's wrong with software patents, nothing will

    Backing up is something that is an essential activity for any company or service using computer systems - including courts. To validate these patents almost practically grants Symantec an absolute monopoly on backing up anything.

    Problem is, I imagine many jurors and judges would have no idea of the impact of this until they discovered their online photo albums, social network profiles, hotel + flight bookings and any number of other services they rely on disappear (such as a typical server outage) - due to the provider deciding not to pay the danegeld for having backup systems in place.

    Sure this requires another Tim Berners-Lee moment, to shoot down the validity of these patents.

  12. gaz 7

    WTF! - Seriously

    Can someone please go and shoot up Symantec's Laptop!

    We hate Symantec with a vengence! We have used Backup Exec since the days of Veritas and it's gotten more and more crap over the years.

    Doesnt back up VMs reliably, GRT on VM backups hardly if ever works - Awful awful piece of software, and I would and will dump it as soon as I can.

    Especially now. Patents are all well and good, until they get so generic that they cover basic operations.

  13. Tom 13

    Symantec patented restore to different hardware?

    First I heard of that very cool feature was from Acronis.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Symantec patented restore to different hardware?

      Having not actually read each of the patents (like everyone else commenting, I daresay) I suspect the patent for restoring to different hardware is probably to do with part of the bare metal restore system they have in NetBackup.

  14. Pahhh

    @Symantec patented restore to different hardware? #

    I think although the assignee is Symantec it was probably a Veritas patent which in turn came from the Seagate Backup Exec acquasition.

    To my knowledge, Acronis havnt done anything original.

    On a different note, the '086' patent (7,093,086) is a very very broad VM backup patent dating back to 2002. (About the only VM stuff at the time was probably the IBM z-series I think). That patent looks like it would effect just about anyone using vmWare vSphere stuff , including vmWare themselves.

    Its all a crock of shit of course ... oh well, will be fun viewing.

  15. AnInterestedBystander

    Perhaps "profit loss and price erosion suffered by Symantec" is simply caused by the fact their products are largely crap and don't work properly! Normally when a company has to resort to litigation, it's to stifle superior competition.

    I don't want to get into a Veeam verses Symantec debate (it's pointless), but most people managing large virtualised backup workloads over multiple sites will choose a product that works well out the box (ie Veeam) and doesn't require a team of people with "architect" in their title to deploy!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The patents probably come from NetBackup, this product originated at CDC, in 1987 - it's one of the oldest backup packages around.

  16. AnInterestedBystander

    Perhaps Symantec should rather buy out Veeam..

    and then change the word "Veeam" to "Symantec" - that would be funny but I hope it doesn't happen!

  17. b166er

    So their cash cow is bleeding because they haven't innovated, yet they want to cover up this laziness by using flaky patents to go after companies who have bothered to design modern software?


    Bye Bye Backup Exec

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'm not really a fan of Backup Exec, but they have innovated with it, it has lots of new features however Symantec isn't Backup Exec (despite it being the most installed backup package in the world) Symantec is NetBackup and this is on of the two best backup packages in the world. If you're an Enterprise it's either NetBackup or TSM, with Networker coming in a close third.

  18. J. Cook Silver badge

    Yeah, there's a reason why we dumped Backupexec too...

    largely to due it's inability to cope with backing up multiple servers to a single server with a large disk rack and a dual drive library on it.

    We switched over to Simpana, and been rather happy with it despite the product being quite a bit more complex to initally setup and run with.

  19. thegreatsatan

    desperate much?

    People seem to have short memories, go ask SCO how their turn at the patent lawsuit party went with IBM. Ok I think we all pretty much understand this is a pathetic and desperate move on Symantecs part. Essentially they should sue every company that makes a backup and recovery product. Like a lot of companies whose growth came from acquisition, when they are no longer innovative, they turn to alternative means to increase their profit base. That they are choosing to pick on both Veeam and Acronis, shows that those companies are successful enough to be worth their attention.

    Symantec has lost a ton of face latley with their source code hack, and it coming out that they have been working back channel with various governments to provide backdoors for their products. These lawsuits won't serve as a distraction from that if that is what they are thinking.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: desperate much?

      This strikes me as radically different than the SCO case. The second SCO was obviously trying to obfuscate ownership issues with their choice of names and their claim on the patent itself was grey before the case (not something you want in an IP case).

      My post above about Symantec owning the patent wasn't sarcasm, it was genuine surprise. That being the case and with clear ownership of the patent, they have a potentially valid claim, unlike SCO who were on a pure fishing trip. Now maybe things in the patent are obvious and shouldn't have been granted, or perhaps the patent is overly broad, but that's the system we work with and part of why we have courts to hear cases.

      And whether the Symantec product is too complex, too poorly designed, or just getting a lot of bad PR, they clearly need to fix some things or winning the patent case isn't going to help all that much. I worked once for a company that had some good IP and no decent product at a sustainable price point. They went bankrupt about a year after I got out.

  20. thegreatsatan

    Best bet is that they have tried to buy them and were rebuffed, and now are using the courts to help put pressure on the much smaller companies. This is what I would expect from a company that has been working with governments to provide backdoors to their products.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy Now

    SYMC has won a best of VMworld award 3 times in the data protection category. That's more times than any other vendor and it is judged by rotating 3rd party judges. And they have the patents. And, they sell the most.


  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy Now

    SYMC has won a best of VMworld award 3 times in the data protection category. That's more times than any other vendor in that category and it is judged by rotating 3rd party judges. And they have the patents. And, they sell the most. And the last several earnings calls have highlighted strong performance.


    Anyone selling a jump to conclusions matt here?

  23. Happy Ranter

    Enough Already

    I'm all for patenting smart ideas but there is a line between inovation and common sense. Is bloody obvious that if you back something up, you have to put the data somewhere.

    If they had found a way to do ultra fast backup using custom code, then fair enough but this is patenting the basic concept of backup, which I am pretty sure smart people in Bletchly were doing in the 1940's by poking hole in cardboard.

    I'm going to move to America and patent a device that seperats animals from highways, other animals, ponds, rivers and just about anything else you don't want them to go near. It can also be modied to work on a range of animals including humans,

    I shall licence it to the world and make Millions!!!

    I shall call it a fence. Mwhhahahahah.

    And Btw, I think the only thing sysmantec have a right to patent is their skill at turning simple concepts into mountains of complicated bloatwear.

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