Apple, BlackBerry, others sued over security patents

The companies allegedly infringe on biometric encryption and document security technologies, according to court filings

Security company Maz Encryption Technologies sued seven large technology companies for allegedly infringing on several of its security patents. The suits target security technology used in the iPhone and iPad as well as the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution, among other products.

Maz sued Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Toshiba, BlackBerry and Apple in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, according to documents that were filed with the court on Monday that were published by PriorSmart.

The patents in the suit cover technologies that relate to electronic information and document security using file-level and biometric encryption, according to the court filings. All patented technologies were developed by Stephen Zizzi, who was CTO of Maz, the company said.

Maz offers a system called IntelliGard that, for example, is used in an encryption program for Windows 2000, XP and Windows 7. The same technology is used in a program called iMail that allows users to send secure and encrypted email attachments. The company also offers smartcards to store encrypted company information as well as associated hardware, according to the company's website. All brochures on the site are dated 1998.

Not all companies were sued over the same patents though. Dell and HP were sued over two patents, one covering a user authentication system and method for encryption and decryption (the '476 patent) and the other covering a method of transparent encryption and decryption for an electronic document management system (the '681 patent).  

Dell is alleged to have infringed the '467 patent with its Data Protection Encryption security offering and the '681 patent with its biometric and fingerprint readers. HP infringes the patents with its HP-UX 11i Encrypted Volume and File System (EVFS) as well as with HP ProtectTools and fingerprint readers, Maz alleged.

Fujitsu, Lenovo and Toshiba were all sued over the '476 patent. Fujitsu allegedly infringes with its fingerprint readers and biometric authentication systems such as PalmSecure and PalmEntry. Lenovo allegedly infringes with ThinkVantage and fingerprint sensors, while Toshiba allegedly infringes with EasyGuard and fingerprint readers, according to the filings.

BlackBerry, referred to by its old name, Research in Motion, in the filings, was sued over the '681 patent because it infringes the patent with its BlackBerry Enterprise Solution, Maz said.

Apple is the only company that was sued over a different patent. The company allegedly infringes on a patent covering file system encryptions, the '358 patent, it uses in its iOS security system and architecture, used in products as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Maz said.

Maz requested a jury trial in all cases, is seeking damages and wants a permanent injunction against the infringing products.

Apple, HP and Dell declined to comment on pending litigation. Lenovo, BlackBerry, Fujitsu and Toshiba did not respond to a request for comment.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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Tags patentlegalLenovotoshibaencryptionFujitsuHewlett-PackardBlackberryDellAppleintellectual propertysecurity

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