ALADDIN KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS PATENTS: I recently learned about Aladdin Knowledge Systems, and their previous spat with Symantec over virus scanning technology. Aladdin has been in the business of developing security solutionsfor reducing software theft, network user authentication and other anti-spam and anti-virus technology. Its security products are organized into two segments: Software Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Enterprise Security.
Recently, Aladdin sued a Chinese company by the name of Feitian Technologies Co. over patent numbers 6,748,541 and 6,763,399. 3 months after the filing of the compaint, both parties settled the litigation.
Patent 6,748,541, granted on June 8th, 2004, covers a method of using any portable or mobile device (USB/ Serial/ PS2, etc.) in order to store unique personal information or credentials in general, which can than be used for authenticating to a network or application.
Patent 6,763,399, granted on July 13th, 2004, covers portable devices or tokens featuring an on-board smartcard chip that communicates with a host through a USB port. Both patents support the award-winning Aladdin eToken two-factor authentication solution.
I didn't think much of this news, until I decided to check out the '541 patent (filed October 1999) - and get a load of claim 1:
1. A user-computer interaction method for use by a population of flexibly connectible computer systems and a population of mobile users, the method comprising:
storing information characterizing each mobile user on an FCCS plug to be borne by that mobile user; and
accepting the FCCS plug from the mobile user for direct connection to a port of one of the flexibly connectible computer systems and employing the information characterizing the mobile user to perform at least one computer operation.
In case you're curious, the term "FCCS plug" refers to a portable device which mates with a flexibly connectible computer system and, as opposed to peripherals which contain mechanical elements, typically comprises only memory and/or CPU and therefore is typically pocket-size. Because each peripheral connected onto a flexibly connectible computer system typically has at least one port, a flexibly connectible computer system of any configuration typically has at least one vacant port available to interact with an FCCS plug. USB tokens and Rainbow tokens are both examples of FCCS plugs.
In other words, the claim basically recites a dongle carrying user ID information. This technology has been around since the early 70's, and was popularized in the early 90's. If Aladdin has any intention of enforcing this patent on a wider scale, they may want to think about shoring up these claims - this seems like prime reexamination territory to me . . .