I'm reading though a patent that's part of a suit (I have a morbid curiosity at times). The patent is US 8402281, Data security system for a database.

There's a sentence in the document that states:

“Encryption” may concern any form of encryption, tricryption, conversion of coding of plain-text data to non-interpretable (encrypted) data, and is especially to concern also methods of conversion including hashing.

I've tried searching on the web, and I have not come up with anything useful. The closet I get is someone's encryption product.

Question: what is tricryption? Is there some specific legal meaning that concerns itself with technology and encryption?

2 Answers 2


The term "Tricryption" does seem to be obscure. It has no weird legal meaning related to security and encryption.

The basic legal principle is that the patent claims must be "given their broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with the specification.” The applicant is also free to act as his own lexicographer, meaning the applicant is allowed to define terms in the specification idiosyncratically, i.e. differently from their ordinary meanings.

Absent a specific definition of a term such as Tricryption in the specification, or a specific narrowing of the ordinary definition, the interpretation would fall back on the ordinary definition.

Which doesn't help much if the term isn't ordinarily used.

A Google Scholar search may provide some context.

It seems from at least one of the Google references, a Master's Thesis from West Virginia University, that the term has some ordinary meaning to at least a small group within the data security community:

To aid us in this project, ERUCES, Inc. allowed us to use the Tricryption® Engine software suite for our experimental setup. The ERUCES Tricryption® Engine is a patent-pending encryption solution that is used to secure sensitive information stored in a database. This is accomplished using standard algorithms along with key management to protect data from theft and tampering, ensuring privacy and integrity in the database.

Tricryption claims to eliminate intruder and insider threats to the databases security. The Tricryption® Engine encrypts individual fields, records, or objects within a database using unique, variable lifetime keys. These keys are stored in a protected database in a separate domain keeping them securely away from the encrypted data. The links between the encrypted data and the corresponding keys are also encrypted

Tricryption provides many advantages for data-at-rest security.

First, when Tricryption is used, the protected data and the encrypted keys are stored separately.

Next, Tricryption uses an unlimited number of keys based on the number of transact ions as opposed to using a single key or a fixed number of keys.

In addition, the complexity of the scrambling system used in Tricryption incr eases with every single transaction, thus adding to the difficulty of a successful crypto attack.

And finally, even if a malicious user were to steal the information database and the key database, the protected data is useless outside of the ERUCES system. The reason for this is the combination of the unlimited number of keys and the complexity of the scrambling system used. Even though the malicious user has the keys used to encrypt the data, th ere are an unlimited number of them so the user would have to fi rst somehow figure out which keys were used to encrypt which data, then figure out the algori thm used to encrypt the data so he or she could in turn decrypt it.


Tricryption might refer to something like triple DES or 3DES.

  • First of all 3DES and Triple-DES are the same thing. And second of all, both are encryption ciphers. Nobody ever calls them tricryption.
    – Matt
    Dec 9, 2013 at 22:29

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