Standards, Regulations & Compliance

Palo Alto Told to Pay Centripetal $150M for Patent Theft

Federal Court Says Palo Alto Networks Violated Centripetal's Patent Rights
Palo Alto Told to Pay Centripetal $150M for Patent Theft
A federal court awarded Centripetal $151.5 million in patent lawsuit against Palo Alto Networks. (Image: Shutterstock)

A federal jury said Wednesday that Palo Alto Networks directly violated another cybersecurity firm's patent rights for a "threat intelligence gateway" network security technology and awarded Centripetal Networks more than $150 million in the verdict.

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It's rare for patent infringement lawsuits between technology companies to make it to trial. Most result in one company agreeing to pay another licensing fees in order to avoid costly, time-consuming court battles. Centripetal, a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm specializing in cyber threat intelligence, sued Palo Alto Networks in 2021 and requested an order blocking the alleged infringement of four computer network security patents.

Centripetal said Palo Alto Networks had infringed patents related to technologies the company developed to detect and block security threats on computer networks. The company created a technology that "provides a system to protect computer networks from network threats" by filtering data packet transfers based on a series of network-threat indicators, according to its complaint.

Palo Alto argued the patents were invalid but also said that its own technologies work differently than the threat detection system created by Centripetal. A jury empaneled in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found the firm had directly infringed on the patents related to Centripetal's innovations, and awarded a total lump sum payment of $151.5 million.

A spokesperson for Palo Alto Networks said the company plans to appeal the verdict and described the outcome in a statement to Reuters as being "contrary to both the law and the extensive evidence we presented at trial." Palo Alto Networks declined to provide any additional comments to Information Security Media Group about the trial outcome or its impact on future products and services.

Centripetal alleged Palo Alto Networks had had knowledge of its claim over the patents based on interactions "through various channels," the company said in court filings, though it "engaged in willful infringement and egregious behavior warranting enhanced damages."

In 2023, cloud security firm Orca Security sued its competitor Wiz for allegedly violating multiple patents associated with technologies the company developed to secure virtual machines and virtual cloud assets at rest (see: Orca Security Sues Wiz for Allegedly Violating 2 Patents). A 2020 decision to award Centripetal a record $2.75 billion in a separate patent lawsuit case was reversed last year when a Virginia judge ruled in favor of Cisco after the company had appealed.

About the Author

Chris Riotta

Chris Riotta

Managing Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Riotta is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president. His reporting has appeared in NBC News, Nextgov/FCW, Newsweek Magazine, The Independent and more.

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