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Quarterdeck fights viruses

Entering a crowded, litigious space, Quarterdeck announces a licensing agreement for an antivirus engine.

A new contender in the increasingly crowded ring of antivirus companies, Quarterdeck (QDEK) today announced a licensing agreement for Israeli antivirus firm EliaShim's technology.

Over the last six to eight months, Quarterdeck has placed an emphasis on consolidating its key products, such as diagnostic and performance utilities, communications and networking, and search technology software into suite offerings. Curt Hessler, president and chief executive, said the move into the antivirus market is a logical extension of the company's core products.

"The [antivirus field] is growing in terms of numbers of people buying protection, and the whole range of problems that antivirus products have to attack is broadening," Hessler said. "In turn, we are broadening our product line."

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Hessler said it is based on royalties.

The company also created the Quarterdeck Anti-Virus Research Center (QUARC), a lab designed to concentrate on the detection, identification, and removal of known and unknown viruses which threaten PCs via the Internet, LANs, disks, and email attachments.

But as Quarterdeck moves into the arena, antivirus makers have been targeting each other in recent months with patent infringement lawsuits.

Trend Micro, for example, recently filed a round of lawsuits against competitors for violating its antivirus software patent. The company aimed to stop British company, Integralis, and its U.S. subsidiary from allegedly infringing on its patent for computer virus detection technology that carries data over the Internet and by email.

That suit followed a complaint Trend Micro filed in May against its two largest competitors, McAfee Associates (MCAF) and Symantec (SYMC), for allegedly violating the same patent.

Hessler said he is confident that the technology Quarterdeck acquired will not get caught up in the current whirl of patent lawsuits because the technology does not overlap.

"The other products are all copying from each other, but this was invented by EliaShim," Hessler said.

The license covers the EliaShim engine, which Quarterdeck will integrate into its existing product line. The engine is that basic piece of antivirus technology that detects and eliminates viruses. It is connected to a service, where a virus list is updated monthly and alerts are sent to users.

The licensing agreement with EliaShim is not exclusive and other companies also have licensed the technology. Hessler said he expects to set his company apart by incorporating the technology into Quarterdeck suites.

Quarterdeck will roll out its product upgrades this quarter and next quarter with the antivirus software. It will also soon offer a standalone product.