Special to CNET News.com
A U.K. company claims to own a number of patents that relate to the process of downloading software and virus-protection updates over the Internet.
British Technology Group, or BTG, said Monday that it is in discussions with several companies, reportedly including Microsoft, in the hope of getting them to pay royalties.
"We have various patents that cover various ways of downloading software updates over the Web, including virus fixes and product enhancements. These cover products that are in widespread use today," a BTG representative said.
BTG is seeking both downpayments and future royalties from a "number of companies" that it claims have already produced products that infringe its patents. However, the company has not yet divulged details of the patents in question.
BTG, which represents inventors and patent owners who want to protect and enforce their patents, won't reveal which companies it is in negotiations with. Its patents may cover some of the free virus update services that are available, which could become difficult to operate if royalties must be paid to BTG.
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The company, though, played down the suggestion that computer users could be at risk because of its actions.
"I can't think of any time that BTG has brought an injunction to take a product that is on the market off the market," said the company representative.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Microsoft is one of the companies being pursued by BTG.
A Microsoft representative, though, wasn't immediately able to comment on the issue.
Microsoft itself has been pursuing a flurry of patents recently. The software giant was recently for technology that generates a to-do list from notes left in source code.
Graeme Wearden of reported from London.