Oh, Kim Dotcom. You just never stop surprising us.
Just hours after Twitter finally rolled out its long-awaited Two-Factor authentication feature to protect accounts, the Megaupload founder is claiming to have invented the entire mechanism… and he’s got a patent to prove it.
“But they won’t even verify my Twitter account?!”, he says.
The patent in question can be viewed here. Filed for in 1998 and published two years later, it lists a Kim Schmitz — Dotcom’s name before he changed it in 2005 — as the sole assignee.
For the unfamiliar, two-factor authentication is a mechanism intended to make it more difficult for hackers to access accounts that aren’t their own. When a user attempts to log in to a service from an unrecognized computer, the service sends a one-time password to an alternative device (like, say, a cell phone) known to belong to that user. At least theoretically, hacking a user’s account would thus require access to that device in addition to their password.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and countless other monstrous sites all use two-factor authentication to protect user accounts, and Kim Dotcom’s tweets suggest that he hasn’t seen a cent from any of ’em for the alleged “massive IP infringement.”
So, will he sue?
It seems he has at least considered it:
But he quickly switched to a different approach; instead of getting into a legal battle with a bunch of giants, Dotcom would prefer that Google, et al. continue to use “[his] patent for free,” in exchange for financial assistance in his ongoing legal battle:
Given the rather broken state of software patents, it’s not impossible to imagine that there’s at least one other person or company out there that can claim to have invented it, with patent in hand. This patent held by Dynapass Inc., for example, was approved in 2006 for “Use of personal communication devices for user authentication.” We’re searching for other instances of similar patents.
As strange as it may seem for those who only know him as the founder of a file uploading site that was raided by the FBI last year, it would actually make quite a bit of sense for Dotcom to have security-related patents. His first brush with notoriety came in 1994, when he was arrested in Germany at the tender age of 20 for hacking calling cards. Those who spend their lives looking for security holes are often the same who come up with the solutions.