The National Security Agency (NSA) has purchased licensing rights to Certicom’s MQV-based Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) intellectual property. The $25 million agreement gives the NSA a non-exclusive, worldwide license with the right to grant sublicenses of MQV-based ECC covered by many of Certicom’s U.S. patents and applications and corresponding foreign rights in a limited field of use.
Outside the field of use, Certicom will retain all rights to the technology for other industries that require the same levels of security, including state and local government agencies. The Canadian-based Certicom will continue its policy of making its intellectual property available to implementers of ECC under normal commercial terms on a non discriminatory basis.
Researchers have been studying ECC for almost 20 years as the next generation of public-key technology. ECC is a computationally efficient form of cryptography that offers equivalent security to other competing technologies but with much smaller key sizes. This results in faster computations, lower power consumption, as well as memory and bandwidth savings.
“Over 15 years ago, Certicom was founded to research and develop the strongest security possible. This makes us ideally positioned to provide manufacturers, that build government communications equipment and applications, with the tools they need to deliver ECC-based security solutions to the government market,” said Scott Vanstone, founder and EVP of strategic technology at Certicom.
In 1997, Certicom developed the industry’s first toolkit to include ECC which has since been adopted by over 300 organizations. Security Builder Crypto, a cross-platform cryptographic toolkit, includes standards-based ECC implementations that are optimized for size and performance on over 30 platforms.