The eclectic and controversial MegaUpload founder today said he invented two-factor authentication, which is being used by more and more companies to secure access to their sites. The verification steps aim to reduce the likelihood of online identity theft, phishing, and other scams because the victim's password would no longer be enough to give a thief access to their information.
Along with Twitter's recent introduction, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, PayPal, and countless other companies use the technology. It's also popular with banks and various other organizations.
Dotcom said on his Twitter page that he has never sued companies over the patent -- which he provides a link to -- because he believes "in sharing knowledge & ideas for the good of society." Later on, he noted that "people used to imagine that 2013 would be full of flying & a cure for every sickness, but then patents happened."
"But I might sue them now cause of what the U.S. did to me," Dotcom said.
DotCom's early cyberstorage locker, MegaUpload, was launched in 2005, only to be shuttered last year by U.S. federal agencies, which argued that it was a service pirates were using to facilitate copyright infringement. The U.S. has been trying to extradite Dotcom, and a hearing is scheduled for August. The country won a recent battle in a New Zealand court over how much evidence it has to produce. A summary of its case, the New Zealand Court of Appeal said, would do just fine.
After being taken to court by U.S. officials for running an alleged "criminal enterprise," DotCom said he had "no intention" of reactivating MegaUpload or creating any similar business while the U.S. continues with its extradition proceedings. However, he opened his Mega storage locker in January.
Dotcom on Thursday says he doesn't want to sue Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others over two-factor authentication, but he needs help paying for his defense. He noted that all of his assets are still frozen pending trial, and defending his case will cost more than $50 million.
"I want to fight to the end because we are innocent," Dotcom said.
The patent in question, No. 6078908, "relates to a method and to a device for the authorization in data transmission systems employing a transaction authorization number (TAN) or a comparable password." Dotcom filed for the patent under his prior name, Kim Schmitz, in April of 1998. The patent was granted in June of 2000.
While Dotcom has a patent related to the technology, it's unlikely that he controls all aspects of two-factor authentication. Other people and companies, such as EMC's RSA security unit, also have been granted patents related to the security technology, and it's likely that entities using the two-factor authentication, like Apple, would keep Dotcom tied up in court for years if he tries to suit over the patent.
We've contacted Google, Twitter, and Facebook and will update the report when we have more information.
Here are some of Dotcom's recent tweets:
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Citibank, etc. offer Two-Step-Authentication.Massive IP infringement by U.S. companies. My innovation. My patent— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 22, 2013
Big reveal: 1 billion+ Two-Step-Authentications on the Internet weekly.I invented it. Here's proof: google.com/patents/US6078...— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 22, 2013
I never sued them. I believe in sharing knowledge & ideas for the good of society. But I might sue them now cause of what the U.S. did to me— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 22, 2013
Google, Facebook, Twitter, I ask you for help. We are all in the same DMCA boat. Use my patent for free. But please help funding my defense.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 22, 2013
All of our assets are still frozen without trial. Defending our case will cost USD 50M+. I want to fight to the end because we are innocent.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 22, 2013
I innovated two-factor-authentication (MonKey), connected cars (MegaCar), automated stock trading (Trendax) & cloud storage (Megaupload).— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 23, 2013
I'm an innovator, not a criminal. I live in the future, not the past. My innovations help people, not harm them. STOP persecuting me.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 23, 2013
Want to buy the world wide license to my two-factor-authentication patent? (13 countries incl. US & China)Email: email@example.com— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 23, 2013