IDEA patent vs the recent USPTO memorandum

David Shaw dshaw at
Wed Sep 16 22:40:02 CEST 2009

On Sep 16, 2009, at 4:15 PM, Robert J. Hansen wrote:

> David Shaw wrote:
>> Whether this means IDEA is okay or not patent-wise, I have a slightly
>> different take on this: who cares about IDEA at this point?  IDEA was
>> good back in the 90s and PGP 2.x.  It's 2009 now, and we have better
>> ciphers than IDEA, a massive installed software base that doesn't use
>> IDEA, and nobody is suffering for the lack of IDEA.  If IDEA was
>> suddenly not patented, none of this would change.
> Some people use remailers and other tools which depend on PGP
> 2.6/RFC1991 traffic.  There are some people who would very much like  
> to
> see GnuPG fully support RFC1991 so it can replace the very long in the
> tooth PGP 2.6.

If the "some people" still want this, I haven't seen it in a good long  
while.  Possibly they gave up asking.  Still, it doesn't matter.   
GnuPG is not a RFC-1991 tool, and a theoretical un-patenting of IDEA  
doesn't change that either.  To say nothing of the fact that compliant  
OpenPGP implementations are explicitly banned from generating RFC-1991  

In effect, the request you're paraphrasing seems to be "Add support  
for a dead, deprecated, and weaker format to GnuPG, and then deal with  
a massive software distribution problem so everyone can have the new  
version, all so a few remailers and tools don't have to upgrade to  
OpenPGP".  That argument might have made more sense in 1999, to help  
get people through the transition, but it's not 1999 any more.

I'll go out on a limb and suggest that upgrading the relatively few  
remailers is an easier job...


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