Crown Sterling and Black Hat settle lawsuit, promise to never speak of it again

Terms of the settlement are confidential.
Black Hat USA 2019
(Greg Otto / Scoop News Group)

A lawsuit filed in the wake of a controversial cybersecurity presentation last year has ended with a whimper.

Crown Sterling, which described itself as an “emerging digital cryptography” company, has entered into a confidential settlement with the company behind the Black Hat security conference. In a lawsuit filed last year, the vendor had accused Black Hat, owned by Informa Tech Holdings, of breach of contract after its content was pulled from the conference website in the aftermath of a sponsored presentation that saw independent cybersecurity researchers heckle Crown Sterling’s CEO.

During Crown Sterling’s session at Black Hat on Aug. 8, CEO Robert Grant claimed his company had created an innovative new tool that would set a new standard in encryption with “quasi prime numbers” and “infinite wave conjugations.” Dan Guido, CEO of the consultancy firm Trail of Bits, told Grant he “should be ashamed” for selling technology that other technologists had mocked as fantastical.


Black Hat ultimately told reporters it would remove video of Grant’s talk from its website.

Crown Sterling had accused Black Hat organizers of engaging in a “defamatory smear campaign” in a lawsuit, which only elicited further mockery.

Now, Crown Sterling says in a press release its reached a confidential settlement with Informa Tech Holdings “on terms that are acceptable to both parties.” Despite scrutiny from the research community and the allegations in its lawsuit, Crown Sterling says it “recognizes the unique and important contribution of Black Hat USA and looks forward to future conferences.”

“As part of the confidential settlement, both parties have agreed to refrain from providing further comment on this matter,” the release reads.

Jeff Stone

Written by Jeff Stone

Jeff Stone is the editor-in-chief of CyberScoop, with a special interest in cybercrime, disinformation and the U.S. justice system. He previously worked as an editor at the Wall Street Journal, and covered technology policy for sites including the Christian Science Monitor and the International Business Times.

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