Virus software rivals Symantec and McAfee broke their ceasefire as their damning war of words over piracy reached a new, personal level.
McAfee has called Symantec CEO Gordon Eubanks an "accused felon" after Symantec issued an amended piracy writ against McAfee, expecting an injunction at the end of August. Sources said McAfee?s abrasive CEO, Bill Larson, was furious over the writ and the company said Symantec?s latest complaints break a agreement between the companies to avoid comment on the suit, which began in April. It responded by promising to sue Symantec for defamation and contempt of court motion.
McAfee?s general manager of network security, Peter Watkins, rushed out a statement saying: "Symantec?s allegations are without merit and we continue to ship all McAfee products. McAfee has ceased discussions with Symantec until further notice. It is unfortunate that Gordon Eubanks, once himself an accused felon for trade secret violations, has decided to engage in such defamatory behaviour."
Enrique Salem, chief technology officer at Symantec, said the best software is original. "Ultimately, customers are the losers in cases involving technology theft because they don?t get the best products for their money." It is likely any further moves from Symantec will be made in court.
The companies have made accusation and counter-accusation in recent months, turning healthy rivalry into virus warfare. Symantec has claimed McAfee doctors "independent studies" to prove its software is effective and McAfee claims Symantec is conducting a smear campaign against it.
In April, Symantec accused McAfee of copying code to use in its PC Medic 97 and McAfee agreed to alter the product to replace the infringing code. Symantec has now filed for an injunction because it claimed a court-appointed independent expert has agreed McAfee copied code from Symantec?s Norton products to use in its flagship package, Virus Scan, as well as PC Medic.
It is unlikely to be a coincidence that Symantec has complained that McAfee has stolen its code on the same day McAfee reported that its quarterly turnover and profit had both more than doubled.
Larson said the company?s strategy to provide product suites rather than single packages has paid off. For its Q2 which ended on 30 June, McAfee made $23.7 million profit, up from $9.4 in Q2 1996, and reported turnover of $86.3 million, up from $40.8 million. Although the figures are not as good as they appear because McAfee wrote off $2.9 million in Q2 1996 and $8.3 million in the first half of 1996 due to takeovers, the results are still impressive.
In an unrelated announcement, McAfee said it has agreed to resell theft recovery products from Absolute Software. The products monitor networks and alert Absolute if any PCs go missing.
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