Jury turns down internet patent claims

A jury has struck down four patent infringement claims against two internet security companies, and a judge has thrown out a...

A jury has struck down four patent infringement claims against two internet security companies, and a judge has thrown out a fifth, in which a retired electronics engineer claimed to have invented a popular method for processing secure transactions over the internet.

In a case that could have raised the cost of commerce on the web, Leon Stambler had asked for millions of dollars from VeriSign and RSA Security to compensate him for the use of his technology. But a US jury threw out four of his claims after the judge had thrown out the fifth.

Stambler was granted seven patents between November 1993 and October 1999 and has asserted that the patents cover Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a commonly used web security standard used to scramble data during Internet transactions between websites and their customers.

In February 2001, Stambler filed a patent infringement lawsuit against several companies, a couple of which have since settled with him. VeriSign and RSA Security refused to settle, and their trial started in late February.

A second trial, focusing on the validity of Stambler's patents starts tomorrow and Stambler's lawyer, Douglas Whitney, said he believed he would have grounds to appeal against the jury verdict, depending on the outcome of the second trial. The court will also review jury decisions from both of the trials and could potentially overturn them, Whitney added.

A spokesman for RSA Security called the jury decision a "small victory", but said the company is still watching the second trial and any potential appeals.

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