Zscaler Tells Customers Not to Worry About Symantec IP Lawsuit

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Cloud security company Zscaler and Symantec are setting out public positions and preparing arguments for a possible court battle over allegations of patent infringement.

According to a recent report by TechCrunch, Zscaler has been reaching out to customers individually “to tell them the [Symantec] suit is little more than a bullying tactic that won’t impact its business.”

In a lawsuit filed last month, Symantec alleges that the San Jose-based startup infringed 7 of its patents relating to web security, data level parallelism, threat prevention, access control, and antivirus. It could impact Zscaler’s plans to go public this year or next.

“We have an obligation to our customers and our shareholders to defend our intellectual property when we believe it has been infringed, and the lawsuit filed against Zscaler is intended to stop them from copying our pioneering technologies in network security,” Scott Taylor, Symantec’s executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, said in a statement.

Symantec CEO Greg Clark, who had been CEO of Blue Coat before Symantec acquired it in June, turned heads by announcing to CRN in October he had already set up “war rooms” to address competitors as Blue Coat had. He also dismissed several competitors as “trendy” around the same time.

Zscaler and Blue Coat were the two companies in the “leader” quadrant of Gartner’s 2016 magic quadrant for secure web gateways. Zscaler has raised $148 million in equity funding through three investment rounds, including a $100 million Series B in 2015.

“We learned of Symantec’s lawsuit from their press release…and are in the very early stages of assessing their claims. While we are unable to comment on the merits of their claims at this time, we defend ourselves vigorously against lawsuits of this nature,” Zscaler Chief Legal Officer Robert Schlossman told CRN in an email the day the suit was announced.

The company’s founder Jay Chaudhry then addressed the allegations in a letter to Zscaler customers in a letter reprinted by TechCrunch.

“It is unfortunate that many large incumbent companies will resort to litigation when they can no longer innovate. They attempt to use it to hinder rapid growth and customer adoption of unique technologies offered by younger, vibrant companies like Zscaler. In certain situations, as is the case here, the incumbent companies make such claims without any advance notice,” Chaudhry writes.

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