Security company Finjan appears to have won a stinging victory in its long-simmering patent case against rival Secure Computing.

A US judge reckoned Secure Computing had infringed three patents, and awarded the Israeli company damages calculated at a hefty 16 percent of the past sales of Secure's Webwasher content filtering software, 8 percent of the same software in appliance form, and 8 percent on the CyberGuard TSP firewall appliance.

These make up a significant chunk of Secure Computing's range, so unless an appeal is lodged, the damages are bound to hurt. Presumably it was coincidental that the company announced plans this week to rebrand Webwasher, among others in its stable, downgrading the status of the Webwasher name.

"We are pleased with the jury's decision. We will continue to focus our resources on leading the security industry against the latest wave of cybercrime," crowed Finjan's President and CEO, John Vigouroux, without elaborating on exactly what the infringed patents were designed to do, or why Secure Computing in particular was reckoned to have used them without authorisation.

In its official release, Finjan listed up to 17 US patents that might have some bearing on the case. These range from patent 6092194, registered in 1997 for protecting systems from malicious downloadables, to 6154844, which relates to a content inspection system. The definitions of these are comprehensive, but generic enough in their actions to be something that any company in this field might easily transgress.

Neither party was able to make further statements at the time of going to press, but Secure Computing has in the past strenuously denied infringing on the patents and might be expected to appeal against the decision.