Adding another wrinkle to an already complex legal situation, Hilgraeve, a small Michigan-based software firm, has filed a lawsuit against Symantec and McAfee, claiming both companies have violated its software patent.
Symantec and McAfee are already involved in a copyright infringement suit originally filed in April.
Hilgraeve is best known as the maker of HyperTerminal, the communications software licensed to Microsoft and included with Windows 95 and Windows NT. The company also developed antivirus software, called HyperGuard, which it bundles with its own communications package called HyperAccess.
Hilgraeve claims both Symantec and McAfee have infringed a patent issued in 1994 for technology that automatically searches for viruses in transmitted data.
"We sent letters and tried to deal with this in a gentler way," said Hilgraeve president Matt Gray. "We have to do something about this. It's a fundamental process that we own."
Symantec and McAfee are currently embroiled in a long-running legal battle. In the original suit, Symantec alleged McAfee used its code in some of the McAfee software. Symantec further alleged that McAfee's VirusScan antivirus software infringed on its copyrights. The original lawsuit was filed in April and amended in July. It will have its first hearing on October 3.
McAfee, in turn, has filed a $1 billion defamation and trade libel suit against Symantec, in response to a press release Symantec issued, which accuses its rival of lying about the facts of ongoing litigation between the companies.
Both companies are also named in another patent infringement suit that was filed by Trend Micro in May.