Drafting Effective Blockchain Patents

As the number of blockchain-based patents and patent applications increases, more companies have become interested in pursuing these patents. Other companies still think that blockchain-based inventions are not patentable. To help sort fact from fiction, we have prepared a paper to provide an update on blockchain patents, provide guidance on the types of blockchain inventions that are patentable and how to draft applications to maximize their value. This paper is an update to our prior paper entitled “Patent Strategies for Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology” available here.

Social Casino Game Found to Be Illegal Gambling

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s dismissal of a purported class action and held that a social casino game constituted illegal gambling under Washington law. According to the Court, all online or virtual gambling is illegal in Washington state. The panel held that the virtual chips extended the privilege of playing the game and fell within Wash. Rev. Code § 9.46.0285’s definition of a “thing of value.” Continue Reading

Crypto-Crime: The SEC and DOJ Go After BitFunder and Its BitFounder

Taking further steps into the world of cryptocurrency, two entities of the federal government recently took legal action against BitFunder, a now-defunct Bitcoin exchange, and its founder, Jon Montroll. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against BitFunder and Montroll, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan brought criminal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice against Montroll, who was arrested and taken into custody. BitFunder was an exchange that, among other things, empowered its customers to create and trade Bitcoin denominated shares of enterprises. The numerous allegations and charges against the defendants include: Continue Reading

Patent Strategies for Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are rapidly emerging as disruptive technologies. As has happened with many new technologies, particularly disruptive ones, a patent arms race is occurring. The number of patents being filed for these technologies is rapidly increasing.

The number of published applications shows roughly a tenfold increase over the number of issued patents.

Despite this increase in patent filing activity, many companies are unaware of what aspects of this technology can be patented and many myths and misconceptions exist. In addition to the usual misconceptions about patents (detailed below), the open source aspect of many blockchain-based inventions leads to greater confusion. The patentability of software and technology platforms does not cease just because some or all of the software is open source or built on a known protocol. Continue Reading

Seeking foreign investors for your tech startup? Congress says, “not so fast.”

The U.S. Congress is currently considering legislation that would tap the brakes on foreign direct investment in the United States, particularly on investments in sensitive industries like artificial intelligence, robotics, and semiconductors. We know: you’re saying we already have that in the form of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (known as CFIUS). Continue Reading

Apple Requires Disclosure of Odds for Loot Boxes

Apple just announced a number of changes to its App Store Review Guidelines, including the requirement that apps offering “loot boxes” or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase. This comes as the incredibly successful monetization mechanic of loot boxes has come under scrutiny as we have addressed in our prior posts on Are Loot Boxes An Illegal Gambling Mechanic? and an Update to that post. Continue Reading

The Legality of Loot Boxes – Update

We recently blogged on legal issues with loot boxes as a game mechanic, and some of the scrutiny to which they are being subjected. The debate continues on whether loot boxes are an illegal gambling mechanic, but at least for now, they likely remain legal in many jurisdictions. The following is an update on recent statements from various gambling regulatory authorities around the world. Continue Reading

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

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