Symantec rips CyberMedia suit

Symantec Corp. attacked rival CyberMedia Inc. on Wednesday for serving it last week with a "frivolous" lawsuit.

Symantec Corp. attacked rival CyberMedia Inc. on Wednesday for serving it last week with a "frivolous" lawsuit.

"We find this to be setting a new standard of outrageousness in law by CyberMedia," said Gordon Eubanks, president and CEO of Symantec (SYMC), based in Cupertino, Calif.

Last Thursday, CyberMedia (CYBR) brought a lawsuit against its rival for allegedly copying its utility for completely removing, or uninstalling, programs from a user's hard drive. According to Santa Monica, Calif.-based CyberMedia, parts of its UnInstaller program were identical to parts of Symantec's Norton Uninstall Deluxe.

'Parts of the program are copied verbatim.' Or so CyberMedia claimed when it leveled its copyright suit against Symantec on Feb. 5.

CyberMedia, which maintained that portions of the program were copied verbatim, has asked the court for a temporary restraining order to prevent Symantec from selling its program. It also wants compensatory and exemplary damages, and has petitioned the court to force Symantec to recall all copies of its program from retail shelves and distribution channels.

That got Symantec's dander up and on Wednesday, the company held a conference call to rip CyberMedia.

"Each of CyberMedia's claims is easily refuted from publicly available facts," said Eubanks. Most of the similar attributes are due to the programmers from both companies using the same tools, said the president.

Instance One: The text of the help files are nearly identical in places, even going so far as to explain that the "Advice tabs are green," said CyberMedia spokeswoman Lisa Stein. The problem with that? Symantec's program doesn't have an "Advice tab" feature -- which is exclusive to CyberMedia's product.

However, Symantec replied that its program has "advice panes." Many other Windows applications have tabs, and in changing from tabs to panes, the company did not make the change to the help files. "Only 10 sentences out of the entire help file could be said to be the same or similar," said Enrique Salem, vice president of security products for Symantec.

Instance Two: A device file in the Symantec product -- identified as maksfx32.dll -- still has the MicroHelp copyright information attached, said Stein. In addition, the programs are both plagued by several of the same bugs.

These problems are due to both companies using the same tools, said Symantec's Salem. "Yes, we used the same code as CyberMedia, but it was licensed from Microsoft," he said. "Just to make it clear, this is not reverse engineering."

The maksfx32.dll file was licensed from a development company called ElTech, which had originally legally bought the technology from MicroHelp Inc. -- now a subsidiary of CyberMedia.

In fact, the whole suit is made more convoluted because it revolves around two companies: MicroHelp Inc., which created an early version of the UnInstaller program and was later bought by CyberMedia; and ZebraSoft Inc., the creator of Symantec's Uninstall Deluxe.

Three of the founders of ZebraSoft -- Timothy O'Pry, Thomas Lynch, and Snehal Vashi -- were formerly employees at MicroHelp and are co-defendants with Symantec in the case.

However, Symantec's Eubanks said the movement of MicroHelp employees has no bearing on the case. "In the U.S., people are allowed to switch jobs," he said. "If it comes to that, CyberMedia went to Oregon and literally looted our business."

"This is not a lawsuit, but a marketing ploy," said Eubanks.