Eugene Kaspersky famously hates patent trolls and it’s starting to look as if he’s not that keen on lawyers in general.
When the legals sue his firm for allegedly scaring consumers into buying software they don’t need, the Russian fires back faster than a gunner at The Battle of Balaclava who’s just noticed Lord Cardigan’s Light Cavalry bearing down on him.
After a case dating back a year, Eugene Kaspersky has used an unusually long but typically pugnacious blog to celebrate Kaspersky Lab's latest victory over what he sees as the forces of darkness, in this case one Barbara Machowicz and law firm Edelson McGuire.
In 2014, Machowicz had complained that the free Kaspersky Security Scan (KSS) tool had “fraudulently” persuaded her to buy the firm’s $54.95 (£36) software by detecting “unwanted malware, software vulnerabilities, and other non-malware security problems,” in other words by using the psychology of scareware.
It’s fair to say that in the past such accusations were justifiably levelled at some anti-virus programs but these days software doesn’t have to try that hard. Many computers will have numerous unpatched software vulnerabilities and other lesser issues that are gleefully exploited by malware every second of the day. Not mentioning these issues would be fairly serious in fact.
KSS didn’t find malware on the complainant’s PC but it did point out other issues such as vulnerabilities it thought she should be told about.
Kaspersky decided to fight the suit. “But before we could even start giving our explanations, all of a sudden a most unexpected, interesting, yet very satisfying thing happened: the plaintiff… disappeared!,” he said in his blog announcing developments from just before Christmas.
By the by, another target for his ire is the rival security firm that settled a similar suit brought by the same legal firm in 2012 for the same alleged scareware behaviour. Kaspersky doesn’t name the firm involved but he’s referring to a ruling that saw US giant Symantec cough up around $11 million to various parties, including to one million customers that received $9 each to cover their losses.
The implication is clear – every time a security company backs down in the face of these cases, others eventually get the same treatment. By settling, they ruin the herd immunity. It's a view.
You'd think anyone taking on Kaspersky would already be well warned that its CEO has a loudly-stated policy of not giving ground, as patent trolls have found out to their cost in the past. Interestingly, in those cases, the same pattern presented itself, with some firms paying up and Kaspersky telling them to go to hell.
“Sure, we spent serious coinage, and we won’t get that back ever, but at least it wasn’t spent for nothing,” said Kaspersky of the latest case.
“So there you have it. That’s what happened to the latest set of attorneys who went after us; they got what was coming to them – a good kick up the donkey, and the strongest signal never to come near us again: no easy money here!”