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Patent Agreement Removes Perceived Barrier To Telecommunications Security System

The Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology today announced a licensing agreement in principle with Silvio Micali of Brookline, Mass., for two of his inventions that relate to "key escrow" encryption.

The federal government's voluntary key escrow encryption system provides very strong security for voice, fax and data communications over telephone lines while allowing lawful government access. Micali's inventions refer to the process by which a digital "key" is divided into components, safeguarded by separate agents and combined when legally authorized in order to decode the communication of someone suspected of criminal activity.

This license agreement eliminates concerns Micali raised about possible infringement of his patents in key escrow encryption. It also removes a perceived barrier to the Administration's voluntary key escrow encryption program for telecommunications security and other new encryption approaches potentially covered by Micali patents.

The agreement in principle grants the government non-exclusive licenses to Micali's patented inventions for current implementations of the escrowed key process -- including those generally known as Clipper and Capstone technologies -- and for future implementations that may be developed using those inventions.

The agreement will not result in any changes for users of the voluntary escrowed encryption standard adopted by NIST for the federal government because it covers everyone, within or outside the government, using a key escrow encryption system developed for authorized government law enforcement purposes. NIST plans to purchase the patent rights from Micali in formal procurement actions now under way.

Released July 11, 1994, Updated November 27, 2017