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patents in crypto

Infamous patents in cryptography

  • 1976-1977 - Diffie-Hellman - the patent was filled more than a year after the idea was circulated/published, thus was invalid. The invalid patent expired in 1997.
  • 1991 - Schnorr signatures - Schnorr is obviously the best signature scheme we have, yet the NIST went ahead and standardized the sub-primitives DSA and ECDSA to circumvent Schnorr's patents (Schnorr was not happy 1, 2). In 2008 the patents expired and EdDSA and other schnorr-based signatures started flourishing again.
  • 1996 - NTRU - The algorithm was placed in the public domain in 2017.

    A note on patents. One reason that NTRU is not more widely deployed is that there have been patents restricting its usage for most of its lifetime. source

  • 2001 - OCB - OCB was a beloved mode of operation for encryption invented by Rogaway, which has been sadly not adopted at all due to patent issues. (more)
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hannob commented Mar 29, 2020

RSA was patented until 2000. I believe the decision to use a DSA/ElGamal combination for GnuPG for a long time was due to the RSA patent.

IDEA was one of the post-DES-but-pre-AES algorithms, found this old Schneier interview:

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Early PAKEs where patented and certainly hindered their adoption (cf CFRG pake standardisation process)

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elichai commented Mar 29, 2020

There's an endomorphism trick to speed up elliptic curve multiplication which is sadly patented.

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mimoo commented Apr 8, 2020

at 40:00 interesting discussion on patents:

kenny says that patents delayed ECC for 10-15 years

yehuda says that patents are the reason we don't use PAKE today

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