Two Unexpired Patents May Be In Conflict With Schnorr Signatures In Bitcoin
Bitcoin uses Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithms (ECDSA). Once upon a time, ECDSA was favored over Schnorr signatures in Bitcoin despite its advantages. Why? Mostly to avoid complications with patents, as Schnorr signatures were covered by a patent which would force the developers to find free alternatives to build the decentralized system.
However, earlier this month, a Bitcoin called Pieter Wuille published a proposal for the use of the Schnorr signatures for BTC instead of the traditional ECDSA, which has been used since the beginning of the token.
Schnorr Signatures Expired In 2008
For one side, the patent of the Schnorr signatures has been expired ten years ago in 2008. However, there are two unexpired patents that may botch Wuille’s plan to use this technology in BTC. While the Schnorr signatures can be considered free technology right now, some applications of the algorithms are patented and this might represent a legal risk for BTC.
The Two Patents
In a field like cryptography and blockchain, it can be hard to find conflicting patents, especially because of the complexity of the methods and its applications. However, there are clearly two patents that would clash with BTC is the most popular token in the world were to use the Schnorr technology.
The first patent is “Masking and Additive Decomposition Techniques for Cryptographic Field Operations”, by Vincent Dupaquis and Michel Douguet. The other one is “Signing Methods for Delivering Partial Signatures, and/or Threshold Signatures, Corresponding Verification Methods, and Corresponding Electronic Devices”, by Marc Joye and Benoit Libert.
According to experts, these patents might clash with the idea of the developers. It is unknown whether they know or not of them and, unless the owners decide to let the BTC team use them, they may have to face lawsuits, which could complicate the situation of BTC.