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[FYI] Software encryption patent incites controversy ...


From: "Elyn Wollensky" <elyn@consect.com>
To: <cypherpunks@einstein.ssz.com>
Subject: CDR: Software encryption patent incites controversy ...
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002 15:27:55 -0500

Sorry this is so long (I don't have a link) - but this is definitely worth a
read-through when you have a few minutes.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA., April 2, 2002 - A company that in
February 2001 obtained a patent to encryption technologies
 is now harassing other publishers of security software,
 demanding that they cough up licensing fees for products
 published years before the patent application was filed.

 Maz Technologies Inc., http://www.maztechnology.com,
 Irvine, CA, is demanding at least $25,000 from PC Dynamics,
 http://www.pcdynamics.com. The U.S. Patent and Trademark
 Office (PTO) issued patent 6,185,681 to Maz on February 6,
 2001. The patent claims to cover all application-
independent or transparent encryption technologies.

 "The patent is a mistake, and should never have been
 awarded," said Bruce Schneier, internationally-renowned
 security technologist, author, founder and chief technical
 officer of Counterpane Internet Security Inc. Schneier is
 the inventor of the Blowfish encryption algorithm and
 Twofish, a finalist for the new Federal Advanced Encryption
 Standard. In 2001, he testified on computer security to the
 U.S. Senate's Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology,
 and Space.

 "The Cryptographic File System, written and made available
 in 1993, does the same thing. I expect this thing to be
 overturned quickly -- it's idiotic. It's abuses of the
 patent system like this that make it difficult for
 legitimate companies to develop and market technology
 products," said Schneier.

 "This is an absurd claim," said Peter Avritch, president of
 PC Dynamics, which publishes a virtual disk encryption
 product for Windows called SafeHouse. The company first
 introduced SafeHouse in 1994. In turn, SafeHouse draws on
 transparent encryption technologies that PC Dynamics
 earlier included in MenuWorks Total Security, first
 published in 1991, seven years before the patent
 application was filed.

 "The demand from Maz is based on a patent application filed
 in 1998, long after the widespread use of hard drive
 encryption. That application somehow failed to discover and
 identify a huge body of 'prior art' that included existing
 encryption products, even encryption products used for
 decades by the U.S. government - which the PTO also somehow
 failed to research before it approved the patent. Clearly,
 the PTO needs to re-examine and invalidate this patent.

 "Further, did Maz willfully file a false claim of
 intellectual property? Under a 'Walker Process' antitrust
 counterclaim, a company can seek treble damages from a
 patent holder if the patent holder willfully defrauded the
 PTO -- in this case, by not referencing the abundance of
 like-acting software already available at the time the
 patent application was filed," said Avritch.

 Koppel, Jacobs, Patrick & Heybel, the law firm for Maz
 Technologies, also offered a claim chart and license to
 Envoy Data, http://www.envoydata.com, Tempe, AZ. Envoy
 resells SafeHouse and publishes its own encryption and
 security products.

 "It's ironic that Richard Koppel, senior partner of the
 firm, personally filed the original trademark applications
 for MenuWorks in 1987," said Avritch. "Now his firm is
 targeting a former client."

 "It's also ironic that we've been through this before,"
 said Avritch. "In the early 1990s, PC Dynamics published
 the Energizer Bunny Screen Saver. In 1994, the company was
 targeted as the first test of a patent claiming rights to
 nearly all advertising or corporate logos appearing in
 software products. Coverage of the patent fight triggered
 Bruce Lehman, then Commissioner of Patents for the PTO, to
 order a re-examination and invalidation of the patent,

 The licensing demands have spurred other developers and
 vendors of encryption products to volunteer as expert
 witnesses and offer 'prior art' that invalidates the
 patent, including:

 * Phil Zimmermann is the inventor of PGP (Pretty Good
 Privacy), the most widely-used email encryption software in
 the world. Zimmermann founded PGP Inc. which was later
 acquired by Network Associates Inc. "Does the lack of
 reference to obvious and well-known prior art products
 indicate an ignorance on the part of the patent applicant
 or a deliberate attempt to exclude those products from
 consideration as prior art by the Patent & Trademark
 Office? This illustrates a festering problem at the PTO
 with how patents get issued. This patent cannot be allowed
 to stand," said Zimmermann.

 * Glenn Everhart has written security-related software
 since the 1970s. In 1978, 20 years before the Maz
 application was filed, he authored a virtual encrypted disk
 system for the RSX11D from Digital Equipment Corp. He has
 placed his work into the public domain and allowed the
 source code and documentation to be distributed freely in
 Internet-based software collections. "It annoys me that
 some Johnny-come-latelies get a patent on it," said

 * "Maz Technologies is holding the security industry
 hostage," said Jean-Luc Cooke, chief scientist and co-
 founder of CertainKey Inc. "Patenting a novel padlock
 design is sensible. Patenting the use of a padlock to
 protect a filing cabinet versus a garage door makes no
 sense whatsoever. There is nothing 'novel' about such a
 patent. Clearly, its purpose is not to protect innovation,
 but to stifle it for monetary gain."

 * "It's hard to imagine how the claims in this patent got
 approved," said Matt Blaze, a research scientist in
 computer security and cryptography at AT&T Labs.
 "Transparent, automatic file encryption has been widely
 known and published -- even taught to students -- for at
 least a decade. In fact, I described many of the techniques
 claimed in this patent in a published paper on the CFS
 encrypting file system back in 1993 -- five years ahead of
 the MAZ patent application."

 * Krag Brotby is a member of the Society of Competitive
 Intelligence Professionals, program director for the
 California High Tech Task Force steering committee and a
 member of the High Tech Criminal Investigators Association.
 In the 1980s, more than a decade before the Maz application
 was filed, Brotby was president of Vault Corp., which
 created FILELOK, a product that combined media
 fingerprinting technology with transparent file encryption.
 He obtained patents for the fingerprinting technologies,
 "but we chose to not apply for patents on transparent
 encryption because it was not novel then and it certainly
 is not novel now."

 * Noah Groth, president of PC Guardian,
 http://www.pcguardian.com, San Rafael, CA, has been
 developing data protection software since 1993. His
 company's Encryption Plus(r) Hard Disk is developed around
 Schneier's Blowfish algorithm. "Transparent, on-the-fly
 encryption has been around for some time," said Groth. "The
 technology is widely documented, and the documentation is
 relatively easy to obtain. All Maz Technologies has done
 with its patent is to sully the reputation of the Patent
 and Trademark Office by not bringing this documentation to
 the attention of the PTO staff." Groth said that the law
 firm for Maz Technologies also offered to PC Guardian a
 claim chart and license.

 PC Dynamics, http://www.pcdynamics.com, Westlake Village,
 CA., publishes SafeHouse and My Corkboard. The company
 offers the software programs to users via download from the
 company's Web site, to corporations via site licenses, and
 to OEMs under private labels.


 Peter Avritch, mailto:pavritch@pcdynamics.com, 818-889-1741
Matt Blaze, mailto:mab@research.att.com, 973-360-8352
Krag Brotby, mailto:kbrotby@cinenet.net, 310-827-6606
Jean-Luc Cooke, mailto:jlcooke@certainkey.com, 613-263-2983
Glenn Everhart, mailto:everhart@gce.com, 302-659-0460
Noah Groth, mailto:ngroth@pcguardian.com, 415-459-0190
Bruce Schneier, mailto:schneier@counterpane.com, 408-777-3612
Phil Zimmermann, mailto:prz@mit.edu, 650-322-7377
US Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199 or 703-308-4357

Attorneys for Maz Technologies Inc.

Steven C. Sereboff, mailto:ssereboff@koppelpatent.com
Richard Koppel, mailto:rkoppel@koppelpatent

Click here for links to full text of the patent, background
 information, correspondence and other documents:


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