BlackBerry’s Potential Biggest Patent Asset: Elliptic Curve Cryptography

cryptography

BlackBerry recently announced it is weighing its options for a partnership, joint venture, or perhaps outright sale. If sold, BlackBerry’s CEO Thorsten Heins stands to make a pretty penny off his severance package.

Though, most buyers wouldn’t necessarily be interested in such a new platform as BlackBerry 10. Instead, many believe the golden ticket to a sale of BlackBerry would be its patents.

Most notable of said patents would be the ones it owns through its subsidiary Certicom. Encryption has been a staple point feature for BlackBerry and it comes from Certicom’s patents crucial to using a form of Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) encryption.

The US and other governments say Elliptic Curve Cryptography is the best way to protect sensitive data. Currently, the use of ECC is relatively in its infancy, but is regarded as one day becoming the main way data is secured.

Even the NSA suggests the use of ECC: “[T]he evolving threat posed by eavesdroppers and hackers with access to greater computing resources…Elliptic Curve Cryptography provides greater security and more efficient performance than the first generation public key techniques (RSA and Diffie-Hellman) now in use.”

BlackBerry paid $106 million (double its initial bid) for Certicom and its patents in 2009. Motorola (now part of Google), Oracle and defense contractors General Dynamics have all licensed Certicom’s encryption patents. Those patents could be worth a tantamount if BlackBerry were to price them right.

via MIT Tech Review




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