Palo Alto Networks hit with $151.5 million verdict in Centripetal patent trial

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) - A federal jury in Virginia awarded cybersecurity company Centripetal Networks $151.5 million in damages on Wednesday after finding that rival Palo Alto Networks violated the company's patent rights.

The jury agreed with Centripetal that Palo Alto's security software infringed four patents related to Centripetal's "threat intelligence gateway" network-security technology.

A Palo Alto spokesperson said that the verdict was "contrary to both the law and the extensive evidence we presented at trial" and that the company plans to appeal.

Representatives for Centripetal did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the verdict.

Reston, Virginia-based Centripetal sued Palo Alto in 2021. It said that Palo Alto's Cortex cybersecurity platform, NextGen firewalls and other software infringed patents related to technology for blocking security threats from entering a computer network.

Centripetal asked the court for monetary damages and an order blocking Palo Alto's alleged infringement.

Palo Alto told the court that its technology works differently than Centripetal's patented inventions, and also argued that the patents were invalid.

Centripetal previously won a $2.75 billion award, the largest in U.S. patent history, from a Virginia federal judge in 2020 after he found that Cisco Systems' cybersecurity products infringed separate Centripetal patents.

The award was thrown out on appeal, and a different Virginia judge ruled for Cisco last year after a rehearing.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; Editing by David Bario and Cynthia Osterman)