A digital certificate only provides the identity of a person or a company in any electronic transaction or action, but not the time of performing the action. If a secure, reliable third-party time source is a key element in the business transaction or the situation, timestamping service is needed.
Why should I use timestamping in intellectual property protection?
The traditional way of witnessing copyrights is to go to a notary, which is expensive and inconvenient. By using timestamping service, writers, designers and people doing creative work can have copyrights witnessed inexpensively, quickly and conveniently online on their own computers. At the same time, confidentiality is ensured as no one can peep into the contents during timestamping process.
Using timestamping in e-commerce can prove that transactions occur at particular time and the contents have not been altered since then. The contents of transactions are kept confidential. Using timestamping service can prevent fraud and repudiation on time. Customers and suppliers will have confidence in buying and selling on the Internet.
Normally, a key expires after some period of time, such as one year, and a document signed with an expired key should not be accepted. However, there are many cases where it is necessary for signed documents to be regarded as legally valid for much longer than two years; long-term leases and contracts are examples. By registering the contract with a digital time-stamping service at the time it is signed, the signature can be validated even after the key expires.
If all parties to the contract keep a copy of the time-stamp, each can prove that the contract was signed with valid keys. In fact, the time-stamp can prove the validity of a contract even if one signer's key gets compromised at some point after the contract was signed. Any digitally signed document can be time-stamped, assuring that the validity of the signature can be verified after the key expires.