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01 March 2007, 09:36

Black Hat briefing cancelled due to alleged patent infringements

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A planned briefing on the cloning of RFID chips during the Black Hat DC security conference held in Washington until March 1 had to be cancelled due to alleged patent infringements. According to InfoWorld, the smartcard vendor has threatened to take legal action against both the speaker Chris Paget and his employer IOActive, in case they presented their findings as planned. HID claims that the self-built device used by Paget for demonstration purposes infringes two of the company's patents. In early February, HID, a renowned manufacturer in the access control industry, had launched a new RFID-based authentication system.

At the recent RSA Conference, Paget, Director of Research and Development for security provider IOActive, had used HID chips to demonstrate that his technology for cloning RFID chips is actually working. His briefing on this technology planned for Black Hat Federal had caused a dispute for days on end between HID and IOActive. Finally, Josh Pennell, CEO of IOActive, gave in to the pressure and cancelled the briefing. While for Pennell and others, such a broad patent claim constitutes a threat to free speech, they had not much to set against HID's threats. Although in the US, too, only marketing a patented technology without the respective license is illegal, the pressures exerted by HID were too much for his relatively small company, Pennell told InfoWorld.


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