McAfee Antivirus Pioneer Fights Intel Over Who Owns His Name

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  • Chipmaker allegedly warned him about trademark infringement
  • He failed to win Libertarian Party presidential nomination

John McAfee, the creator of the eponymous antivirus computer software system, sued Intel Corp. for the right to use his name in new ventures after the chip maker bought his former company.

Intel bought McAfee in 2010 and eventually renamed it “Intel Security.” McAfee has since joined digital gaming company MGT Capital Investments Inc. as chairman and chief executive, with plans to rename the company “John McAfee Global Technologies Inc.”

McAfee says Intel warned him that any use of his name will infringe on the company’s trademarks that it acquired with the McAfee deal in 2010, according to his complaint filed Friday in Manhattan federal court. An Intel spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the suit.

Private equity firm TPG is among potential bidders for Intel’s McAfee unit and has held preliminary discussions with Intel about a deal that could value McAfee at as much as $3 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named because the process is private. Intel is also talking to other potential bidders, including buyout firms and corporate suitors, they said.

Intel is considering offloading the antivirus software unit as part of a strategy to focus on its more profitable data-center business. The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker acquired McAfee in 2011 for $7.7 billion to build security features directly into its silicon products.

McAfee, 70, announced a run late last year as a presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, campaigning on a privacy-focused platform that includes pushing for the government to create a cybersecurity defense strategy. The party’s nomination was won by former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

McAfee is also a founder of Future Tense Secure Systems Inc., a security and privacy company that provides apps including D-Vasive, according to its website. MGT Capital has a consulting agreement with the company, also known as Future Tense Central, according to a May statement.

In 2012, while living in Belize, McAfee had run-ins with local police for alleged unlicensed drug manufacturing and weapons possession but was released without charge. Later, Belize police started a search for him as a person of interest in connection with the murder of his neighbor. McAfee moved to Guatemala, where he was detained and released before eventually returning to the U.S. McAfee said he was innocent.

The case is McAfee v. Intel Corp, 1:16-cv-06934, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).