Our Patent Policy

Terry Ritter


We patent our work and license our patents.



Contents


Brief Summary

Even the barest mention of patents can lead to adversarial relationships which neither exploit nor advance the technology. But personal use is rarely a significant issue, and in corporate relationships we can be a form of ongoing outside research. Certainly we will be most inclined to share future results with our friends and supporters.

Personal Use

We prefer not to know about someone's personal use. But if for some reason you need to operate under a specific formal license, you must contact us and describe the limits of your proposed use. A positive response from us will contain your limited personal usage license number.

Corporate Use

We offer non-exclusive licenses to our technology. Because of the number of variables involved and various special cases, there really is not much point in stating a particular percentage or fee. In many cases, it will be beneficial to have us construct an appropriate custom but non-exclusive cipher. Often there will be a continuing interest in the field and thus a desire to suggest directions and learn early results which are not likely to be available in an adversarial relationship.


Background

Perhaps because we publish our work, some people are disturbed that we protect our developments by patent. But patents are normal in the research business. Most R&D (research and development) engineers are required to assign their patent rights to their employer. Even academics generally cede patent rights to the institutions which pay their salary, and which provide lab space and equipment. Companies and academic institutions often license their patents to offset their costs.

In contrast, we take no public funds, and are employed by no large corporation. We perform our own R&D, on our own time, and our own dime. We patent our results so we can eat, live, and continue the work. We see patents as substantially better for society than keeping developments secret so that only we understand their consequences. We also do not subscribe to the socially corrupting idea that someone should do real work and then release it for free without profit. Profit in the form of wages is how most of us manage to live.


Claims Tutorial

Patent law is a specialized area of a specialized field. Many common terms and expressions have special meaning in this particular context. Further, patent claims are interpreted or understood in the context of a particular patent. However, it is normally possible to follow at least some claims.

When we look at patent claims, we notice a distinction between those which reference some earlier claim, and a few claims which have no such reference. Claims which do not refer to other claims are called "independent," and carry the broadest coverage because they are constructed to have the fewest requirements and limitations. Claims which do refer to other claims are called "dependent" claims, and these include the requirements and limitations of some other claim, further narrowed with additional requirements and limitations.

The reason for having dependent claims is that it is impossible to know everything which was published or in common use anywhere in the world. Therefore, a broad claim may well someday be found to have been "anticipated," and ruled unenforceable. In this case we hope that the increasingly fine restrictions of the dependent claims will remain unanticipated and, thus, still in effect. The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) tries to limit patents to typically 3 independent claims.

Each claim stands alone in defining some particular range of coverage. To find infringement, it is not necessary that every claim apply to some art, only that one claim apply fully. A claim is said to "read on" infringing art when each requirement and limitation in the claim is satisfied. The actual art may have a great deal of elaboration, but infringement only requires that the claimed material be present, not exclusive.

Here is claim 1 from the Dynamic Substitution patent:

1. A mechanism for combining a first data source and a second data
source into result data, including:

     (a) substitution means for translating values from said first
data source into said result data or substitute values, and

     (b) change means, at least responsive to some aspect of said
second data source, for permuting or re-arranging a plurality of the
translations or substitute values within said substitution means,
potentially after every substitution operation.

Suppose it is proposed to use something an awful lot like Dynamic Substitution to produce an authentication value for a message:

Here we can take the message as a "data source," the RNG confusion stream as another "data source," and the hash value as the "result data." We clearly have a "substitution means" or table. We also have a "change means" which makes changes in the table, and said "change means" is indeed responsive to the RNG confusion stream which controls the shuffling. That's it. Claim 1 reads on the proposed structure.


The Law on Patent Infringement

Patent law is contained in Title 35 of the US Code, which is available on the net. The most interesting part of the chapter on infringement is this:

UNITED STATES CODE
          TITLE 35 - PATENTS
               PART III - PATENTS AND PROTECTION OF PATENT RIGHTS
                    CHAPTER 28 - INFRINGEMENT OF PATENTS

 271. Infringement of patent
     (a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without
authority makes, uses or sells any patented invention, within the
United States during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the
patent.
     (b) Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be
liable as an infringer.
     (c) Whoever sells a component of a patented machine, manufacture,
combination or composition, or a material or apparatus for use in
practicing a patented process, constituting a material part of the
invention, knowing the same to be especially made or especially
adapted for use in an infringement of such patent, and not a staple
article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial
noninfringing use, shall be liable as a contributory infringer.

Note that the term "sells" in paragraphs (a) and (c) is generally taken to include free distribution.

While there are always exceptions, normally it would not make sense to take individual users to court. Nor does it make sense to price a manufacturer out of the market. A patent is best seen as an economic tool, rather than an end in itself.


Terry Ritter, his current address, and his top page.

Last updated:1997-03-31