Every week, I look at a software patent that’s been in the news. You can see previous installments in the series here. This week I’m going to look at this patent, “System and method for protecting a computer and a network from hostile downloadables,” which I believe forms the basis for this lawsuit against Secure Computing.
In a nutshell, what Finjan patented was the digital equivalent of a bouncer. A bouncer stands at the entrance to a club, examines each prospective patron, checks his name and ID against a list of names (either the guest list of people to let in or a blacklist) and then admit the ones who meet the requirements. Replace “bouncer” with “server” and replace “patron” with “downloadable program,” and you’ve pretty much summed up Finjan’s patent. Finjan describes a system that allows a systems administrator to establish rules describing what kinds of executable programs are allowed on client computers, and Finjan’s software enforces the policy.
There’s literally nothing more to this patent. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the patent itself. Tell me the “Summary of the Invention” isn’t a jargon-laden description of what a bar bouncer does. Even by the low standards of your typical software patent, this is a bad patent.