[cryptography] NSA's position in the dominance stakes

Jon Callas jon at callas.org
Fri Nov 19 18:35:28 EST 2010

> I know they are patent free, and you know they are patent
> free, but Certicom does not admit they are patent free and it
> is not likely a judge or jury would be able to tell the
> difference.
> The history of patents is that is harder to enforce a valid
> patent in a application where it actually applies, than to
> enforce a totally and outrageously bogus patent, because the
> judge and the jury is likely to find a valid patent's
> application to a valid case entirely incomprehensible.
> Let us suppose you use Tate pairing key agreement, and
> Certicom's lawyer claims you are using MQV

 Forgive me, but that is insulting to both judges and juries. In that particular case, it is easy to defend because the question is "are you using MQV" and the answer is no. 

> If you use the standard variable names for key agreement,
> Certicom will probably win.  Imagine yourself trying to
> explain to a judge and jury the irrelevance of variable
> names!
> Conversely, suppose you really are using MQV - but you have
> changed the variable names, and are using the Boost
> metaprogramming template library to create and utilize
> cryptographic types and operations.  Now imagine Certicom's
> lawyer trying to explain boost metaprogramming to a judge and
> jury!  Obviously he would not try.  He would instead claim
> that Certicom owns ECC no matter how implemented, and slip
> the judge a suitcase full of small unmarked bills.  What
> else could he do?

So you're saying that patent suits are won by bribing the judge?


> > Certicom has never been clear as to what all they claim
> If they were clear to us, they would be entirely
> incomprehensible to judges and juries.

No, Certicom has said that they own lots of patents and have a bunch more on the way, so why not just license the toolkit?

Presently, Certicom is no more, having been bought by RIM, and much of the silliness has ended. 

Nonetheless, while the patent game is a stupid game in which the refs have, do, and will make bad calls, it is not, as you are saying a game ruled by corruption and bribery. 

> > Strictly speaking, data compression per se and links per se
> > aren't patented.
> A page containing a sequence of outward pointing graphic
> links is patented:
> <http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1029093/singapore-firm-owns-pictures>
> and there are several data compression
> patents so broad as to cover every possible form of data
> compression and numerous quite impossible forms of data
> compression.
> > I was involved in a patent dustup that went sorta like
> > this:
> >
> > Them: "Take a look at this patent. Lots of people have
> > licensed it, maybe you want to, too." (Any smart person
> > starts this way.)
> >
> > Us: "Hmmm. Nope, no, I don't think we do."
> >
> > Them: "Are you sure? We'd like to have a meeting on this.
> > We think you'll find licensing them cheap, and effective.
> > Lots of other people have." (They named the companies who
> > had licensed, so as to make a good impression.)
> >
> > Us: "Sure, we'll take the meeting. But before you come, be
> > sure to look at this patent and this one too. We think you
> > might be interested in licensing it from us. One possible
> > outcome is we like each others' patents." (This is
> > suggesting a cross-license, which is no good for them, as
> > they get no money and have to sign a contract.)
> That works when one company is trying to keep other companies
> out the business it is in. Patent trolls, however, are in the
> patent business.  Since they do not actually practice any
> technology, cannot be deterred by a bigger pile of similarly
> bogus patents.
> When companies threaten each other with bogus patents, it is
> like nuclear deterrence.  When a patent troll threatens
> companyies with bogus patents, it is like a nuclear
> terrorist.
> All patents that are actually useful in litigation are bogus,
> for since it is obvious the patent office cannot comprehend
> this stuff there is no way the court is going to.  Patent
> trolls therefore litigate on the basis of bogus patents,
> therefore when they claim to have patented breathing and
> hunting mammoths, probably have done so, those being the only
> kind of patents likely to be upheld.
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