CFTC Issues Primer on Virtual Currency, Virtual Tokens and ICOs

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s LabCFTC recently released, “A CFTC Primer on Virtual Currencies.” This primer provides an overview of virtual currencies and their potential use-cases, helps outline the CFTC’s role and oversight of virtual currencies, and cautions investors and users of the potential risks involved with virtual currencies. Continue Reading

Deadline Approaching: Action Required by December 31 To Avoid Losing DMCA Safe Harbor Protection

The U.S. Copyright Office is making changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor agent registration process. The changes impact both new online service providers as well as existing online service providers who have already registered an agent. Read on for details about what you will need to do. Continue Reading

Are Loot Boxes An Illegal Gambling Mechanic?

A member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament has opened an inquiry into the legality of loot boxes. Loot boxes are virtual items that may be redeemed to receive a randomized selection of additional virtual items. Various countries around the world have recently moved to regulate the provision of loot boxes in video games, often in response to inquiries from consumers or legislators, such as the aforementioned inquiry in the UK. This leads to the ultimate question: are loot boxes legal? The linked article below addresses this question and several other issues related to loot boxes. Continue Reading

PTAB Sheds Light On Video Game Patent Validity

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) recently upheld the patentability of a video game-related patent, ruling the computer graphics features were not obvious over the prior art. The patent (US Patent 7,061,488) address techniques for rendering lighting and shadows in computer graphic simulations where there are at least 2 virtual light sources. The claims were alleged to be obvious because the high level concepts were allegedly known in the art as evidenced by various prior art references. However, the PTAB disagreed stating that there was no evidence that it would have been obvious to combine the prior art features. This case shows that even if general concepts are known, improvements to those concepts and/or a unique combination of concepts can be patentable. Continue Reading

eSports on the Rise as Collegiate Sport

Across the country, colleges and universities are turning to eSports as a new addition to their athletic programs. Earlier this year, the University of Utah became the first school from a major athletic conference to offer varsity eSports. With an increasing number of institutions offering scholarships to the top high school video gamers, a single administrative body will likely emerge to regulate recruiting, monitor the amateur status of participants, and govern other issues related to the bourgeoning collegiate sport. Continue Reading

Video Game Network Patent Found to Be Patent Eligible – Not an Abstract Idea

The Federal District Court in Delaware recently denied a motion to dismiss a patent infringement case involving a video game networking technology patent based on the patent allegedly being  invalid for lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Despite all of the recent press regarding the so-called Alice test, which revised the test for patent-eligible subject matter, video game related patents are still obtainable and enforceable. It is critical that patent applications for these inventions be carefully considered, the patent applications be properly drafted and the claims be presented in a way that complies with the relevant test. Continue Reading

China Halts ICOs

China has put a halt to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in China. In a recent notice, China declared ICOs to be an illegal fund raising tool and indicated it is reviewing previous ICOs for possible fraudulent practices. Money previously raised will also have to be returned. It is unclear yet whether this will be a permanent ban or whether China will permit ICOs subject to regulatory requirements. Chinese companies reportedly have raised $400 million through ICOs. Stay tuned for further developments.

 

Cryptocurrency Traders Beware – The Taxman Cometh!

As the collective market cap of the cryptocurrencies has jump above $150 billion, traders and investors have accumulated significant gains. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Internal Revenue Service is stepping up efforts to ensure that taxes are reported and paid. To assist in this effort, it has contracted with company that provides software that analyzes and tracks bitcoin transactions. Continue Reading

SEC Issues Warning on Certain ICOs

As the number and dollar volume of Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) continue to increase, the SEC has taken a greater interest in this activity. As we previously reported, the SEC issued its initial ICO guidance on July 25, 2017. In this guidance it declared that depending on the facts and circumstances, an ICO offering may involve the offer and sale of securities. If that is the case, the offer and sale of virtual coins or tokens must itself be registered with the SEC, or be performed pursuant to an exemption from registration.  Continue Reading

eSports League Expands with Addition of NFL Owners and Cloud9

Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League gained two new teams this month as Stan and Josh Kroenke, owners of the Los Angeles Rams and numerous other professional sports franchises, and Jack Etienne, founder and CEO of American eSports organization Cloud9, each acquired a team in the expanding league. The team acquired by Stan and Josh Kroenke will be based in Los Angeles, and the team acquired by Jack Etienne will be based in London. Continue Reading

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