Business briefs

Symantec-McAfee lawsuit scuffle heats up The world of antivirus software has recently expanded from mere file protection to encompass protection of groupware, firewalls, Java applets and ActiveX components.

It seems the only thing antivirus software space isn't protected from is rival antivirus companies' lawsuits.

Symantec has amended its lawsuit against McAfee Associates, alleging more of its products contain pirated Symantec code. McAfee said it will countersue Symantec for defamation and business interference. And both are still being sued by new kid on the US block, Trend Micro, which recently was given a patent for its computer virus detection techniques.

Symantec's initial lawsuit, filed in April, alleged that McAfee's PC Medic 97 contained code taken from Symantec's Norton CrashGuard. With the amendment, Symantec charges that other McAfee products, including its flagship VirusScan software, also contain pilfered Symantec code.

Symantec's claim is "absolutely, positively" untrue, according to Peter Watkins, general manager of network security at McAfee.

McAfee produced its source code to Symantec as part of the lawsuit, and an independent expert found source code instructions and comments in McAfee's code to be "identical or substantially similar to" Symantec's code, according to Symantec.

Watkins said it is difficult to discuss the similarities in the code because the report mentioned in Symantec's press release is considered confidential by the court and they have yet to see a copy.

Symantec CEO Gordon Eubanks said his company was notified three weeks ago that portions of both companies' source code were "close, substantially the same, or identical, including misspelled words".

"Our goal here is not to embarrass people but to try to protect intellectual property," said Eubanks. "What we want is for people not to ship our code in their products."

An August 29 hearing will determine if the Court can stop shipment of McAfee products containing the allegedly pirated code and remove all products containing the code from the distribution channel.

McAfee said it initially complied with a court order to not comment on the litigation but said Symantec's press release showed its "wilful and blatant disregard of a court protective order".

McAfee plans to file a contempt of court motion against Symantec for its bad faith negotiations.

Watkins noted that Symantec's legal paperwork was prepared a week ago but not released until the day McAfee's earnings were reported. He said the initial Symantec lawsuit was also filed on the day its earnings were reported.

Watkins said lawsuits seem to be the new marketing ploy in the antivirus space.

IBM profits, revenues up in Q2

By Marc Ferranti

NEW YORK - IBM has hit the upper end of earnings forecasts, announcing net profits worldwide of $US1.4 billion for the second quarter of 1997, ending June 30, compared with net earnings of $1.3 billion in the second quarter of 1996.

On a per-common-share basis, earnings were $1.46, compared to $1.26 for the year-earlier period, according to IBM officials.

Second-quarter 1997 revenues were $18.9 billion, an increase of 4 per cent (or 8 per cent at constant currency) from the second quarter of last year.

IBM ascribed the positive results to the strength of its diverse product portfolio. Sales of servers and PCs to corporate users, for example, offset the decline in AS/400 and RS/600 server lines and its consumer PC business, officials said.

One reason consumer PC sales were down was that demand was strongest for lower-end machines, said Hervey Parke, director of investor relations at IBM. However, inventory turnover matched that of Compaq's, he noted.

Wall Data names Frankenberg as chairman

By Jon Skillings

HONG KONG - Wall Data has appointed Robert Frankenberg as chairman of its board of directors, the company announced last week.

Wall Data, which has been adding Internet applications to its lineup of software programs, praised Frankenberg for his commitment to the Internet marketplace. He has been a director of the company since December.

Formerly the head of Novell, Frankenberg became president and CEO of Encanto Networks in Santa Clara, California. Encanto is developing Internet appliances designed to help consumers and small businesses build and manage their own Web sites. He is also on the boards of America Online, Caere Corporation and Secure Computing. Wall Data is best known for its Rumba line of remote-access software for the PC, mid-range and mainframe markets.