WHEELING – A Morgantown security company is asking the federal court to make one of the most well-known names in computer security stop its alleged infringement of password protection software.

Information Protection and Authentication of West Virginia filed a federal complaint June 8 against McAfee.

It says McAfee committed patent infringement when it began to sell certain content encryption products and services.

Information Protection and Authentication developed a patent called "Method for Preventing Inadvertent Betrayal by a Trustee of Escrowed Digital Secrets," which was first issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on July 25, 2995, according to the complaint.

The patent describes a secret information retrieval process available if users forget their password. For example, should a computer user ever fail to remember a password, he can call a vendor and answer questions that only he should know.

One example of a question a user may be asked is, "When I was three years old, what did my sister call me?"

If the vendor agrees that the user correctly answered the question, the password is revealed. But if the user's responses fail to match, the vendor can take whatever steps he deems necessary, including placing a call to the user about attempted impersonation, the patent says.

Information Protection and Authentication says it developed the patent to provide "the user great protection against the stored data being discoverable by a thief – even when the computer is stolen."

The United States Patent and Trademark Office again issued Information Protection and Authentication two more patents on Oct. 31, 2000, and April 10, 2001, for the same security protection system, according to the federal complaint.

But since Information Protection and Authentication developed their system and obtained the patents, McAfee began using the same security system. Many residents of West Virginia have been paying McAfee for its services instead of Information Protection and Authentication, according to the complaint.

"McAfee's aforesaid activities have been without authority and/or license from Plaintiff," the complaint says.

Information Protection and Authentication is asking the court to rule that its claims have been infringed upon and that McAfee's acts of infringement be found to be willful from the time the company became aware of its infringement.

It is also seeking unspecified damages adequate to compensate it for McAfee's infringement, plus treble damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

In addition, Information Protection and Authentication is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting McAfee from further acts of infringement, contributory infringement and actively inducing infringement with respect to Information Protection and Authentication's patents.

Teresa C. Toriseva of Toriseva Law in Wheeling will be representing it. Serving of counsel will be John F. Ward, John W. Olivo Jr. and David M. Hill of Ward and Olivo in New York and W. Lewis Garrison Jr., Timothy C. Davis and Douglas L. Bridges of Heninger, Garrison, Davis in Birmingham.

U.S. District Court case number: 1:09-CV-76

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