Evans presents What Every CIO Should Know about Blockchain at the IBM Cloud Forum

Forward-thinking CIOs attend the IBM Cloud and Innovation Forum to keep their fingers on the pulse of the future. An essential part of a chief information officer’s duties includes researching new technologies, developing strategies about how technology can provide business value and addressing the risks associated with digital information. TechTarget

That is what I will focus on in this presentation, empowering C Suite executives to educate, engage and evolve in order to remain on the leading edge of industry. Today we focus on three areas: smart contracts, the state, federal and global legislative and regulatory landscape, and intellectual property issues in blockchain.

Blockchain education is at the heart of mass adoption and implementation. That is also the focus of the UNH Law Blockchain, Cryptocurrency & Law Online Professional Certificate I developed and lead. We played a snippet of this video during the presentation.

Watch the full video now!

#CryptoSmartEsq News, carefully curated #blockchainlaw content-Issue 9 (7/31/2018)

By Professor Tonya M. Evans

Welcome to this week’s CryptoSmartEsq News, my carefully curated list of current legal issues and events in blockchain and crypto. 

If you’re new to this exciting, fast-developing space, check out the introductory video in the first CryptoSmartEsq news post. Follow me on Twitter at @CryptoSmartEsq (my blockchain and crypto-focused feed) and @IPProfEvans (my intellectual property-focused feed) and #EvansontheBlock for daily legal bits & bytes. Affiliate links noted with $.

I took a month-long hiatus from CryptoSmartEsq™ News for personal and professional travel and commitments. And boy has a LOT happened in this time. I am reminded what actual breaking news is … it happens every few minutes or so, it seems, in the blockchain ecosystem.

In fact, I’ve changed my Top Story three times in as many days. I won’t attempt to capture every bit of law-related news that happened since the last issue. But I will hit the high notes so dive in to this week’s #CryptoSmartEsq news.

~ Tonya Evans @IPProfEvans & @CryptoSmartEsq


This week’s #CryptoSmartEsq News includes:

  • SEC’s comments on crypto ETFs
  • MasterCard wins patent
  • Thailand tests digital fiat
  • CFA exam to include cryptocurrency questions
  • Prof. Evans has 8 blockchain events now through the end of October

Leave a comment and tweet me your news items.


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Top Story

SEC Delays Decision on Asset Manager’s Bitcoin ETFs Until September

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delayed making a decision on whether to approve five bitcoin-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) until September, public documents reveal on Tuesday.

In the latest edition of the Federal Register, the SEC explains that it is postponing any decision over the possible approval of ETF proposals filed by Direxion Investments in January – one of which will match bitcoin’s price and four of which are based on the cryptocurrency’s price movements.

Intellectual Property

Mastercard won a U.S. patent on Tuesday for a method of speeding up cryptocurrency payments.

The document, published July 17 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), explains that though cryptocurrencies have “seen increased usage over traditional fiat currencies by consumers who value anonymity and security,” the wide disparity in payment processing times between the two classes of assets puts cryptocurrencies at a “disadvantage.” [Read more …]

Law Practice

The cryptocurrency and blockchain technology industry is already crowded with firms eager to nab high-tech startups as clients or help legacy clients navigate a brave new world. But some BigLaw firms have gone further. [Read more …]

Law & Government

Crypto entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has argued on Twitter yesterday that the SEC’s second rejection of the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF it is in some sense “old news.” He stated that a pending decision over the Bitcoin ETF that has recently been filed by VanEck & SolidX for trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) will be more pivotal for the industry — and would likely generate more price-impactful “ETF excitement.”

Emerging financial technologies are taking us into a new chapter of economic history,” Giancarlo told the House Agriculture Committee. At the same time, he said investors should beware of cryptocurrency coins or tokens sold with the claim that they can buy goods, services, or platform access in the future. [Read more …]

In a speech made at an event in Singapore on Wednesday, central bank governor Veerathai Santiprabhob indicated that developing a wholesale central bank digital currency is currently in the pipeline as part of the country’s wider efforts in trialing blockchain technology in various sectors. [Read more …]

Cases and Enforcement Actions

… the rise in class action lawsuits around ICOs coincides with a larger, “historic” incidence of class action securities lawsuits since 2016, with more than 750 federal securities class actions having been filed since halfway through that year. That’s the most prolific 24-month period since the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 was enacted, according the the report. [Read more …]

Education

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are making serious headway in the financial industry, the most recent sign being the decision by the CFA Institute, which offers the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, a three-level program, to include cryptocurrencies and blockchain to its Level I and II curriculums next year, according to Bloomberg. The material for the 2019 exams will be available in August.

The topics are part of a new section called Fintech in Investment Management. The CFA, based in Charlottesville, Va., added these topics in response to rising interest based on focus groups and surveys. [Read more …]

Events

Professor Evans to speak at the following events:

August 9, 2018

August 10, 2018

August 24, 2018

September 21, 2018

  • Panelist, SMU Dedman School of Law Intellectual Property Symposium. The theme of this year’s symposium is Disruptive Ideas and Emerging Technology. Keynote speakers include Karyn Temple, Acting Register of Copyrights, and James Smith, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Ecolab (Dallas, TX)

September 25-26, 2018

October 4, 2018

  • Presenter, World Intellectual Property Organization Lunchtime Learning (Geneva, CH) (internal presentation re: IP & Blockchain)

October 18, 2018

  • Presenter, BYU Copyright and Trademark SymposiumCryptokitties, Cryptography & Copyright (Provo, UT). The paper will be published in the BYU Copyright and Trademark Symposium Issue of the American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal.

October 26-27, 2018

Need a speaker for your event?

[Contact me]


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[previous issue of CryptoSmartEsq News]

Evans explores IP rules & regs in cryptocurrency + blockchain law at Yahoo Finance Summit [livestream]

IP + BLOCKCHAIN @ #YahooAMS

Today Professor Evans explores the role of intellectual property (IP) in the blockchain space, given the reality that the value of IP is generally derived from exclusive, proprietary rights. However, so much of the blockchain ecosystem’s infrastructure is open-source (and necessarily so) due to the need for, and benefits of, collaboration and interoperability. In fact, some fantastic projects, like Linux’s HyperLedger Project, were initiated to promote and support an open-source environment to spur blockchain innovation.

Contrary to the open-source community norms, some decentralized app (dApp) developers building on top of blockchains like Ethereum via “smart contract” code (think, “if, then” self-executing agreement) and infrastructure projects like those created by the Ripple and Mobius teams may, instead, seek a completely or at least substantially proprietary advantage by securing, for example, patent protection.

But is robust IP protection contrary to the originalist principles of the O.B. “original blockchain”, aka the Bitcoin Blockchain? Do strong IP protections, which may increase the overall value of a company’s worth, slow down or speed up innovation in an industry that moves at a meteoric pace? Do innovative steps outpace the US examination and registration processes for copyright (3 to 11 months),  trademark (6 months to one year or longer), and patent (1 to 3 years)?

The bottom line is that navigating OSS licenses is challenging and, of course, implicates important legal and economic issues, especially related to patent (inventions) and copyright (creativity) because software is protectable by both IP regimes.

One industry response to ownership and bad actor regulation for patents (which could also be applied to copyright) is the work of the Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Blockchain Intellectual Property Council. IPWatchdog.com explains:

Aside from establishing a repository of blockchain-specific patent information, BIPC will be exploring various IP protection models that have worked in other sectors, such as: Non-aggression agreements – where industry players agree not to assert patents against each other; developing patent pools – where cross-licensing options are available to all pool participants; reducing inventory – where groups form (like the LOT Network) and the members agree not to sell patents without first granting a license to all group members.

Trademark registration is also an important tool to distinguish brand identity and raise consumer awareness. A trademark’s value can increase over time as the business reputation increases. Issues of consumer confusion, however, can cause harm. The Bitcoin (BTC) vs. Bitcoin Cash (BTH) confusion has left many an unwary person confused about the source of crypto. The consequences of transferring BTC to a BTH wallet means that Bitcoin is forever lost. So trademarks play a key role in avoiding consumer confusion, the primary test of trademark infringement. But with no central person or entity asserting ownership rights in this decentralized ecosystem, who is positioned to protect consumers?

Further, several crypto news outlets reported recently that a UK-based company registered BITCOIN as a trademark (for clothing, alcoholic & nonalcoholic drinks) & began issuing cease and desist letter to people like an Etsy store owner selling Bitcoin t-shirts. I covered this topic in a Twitter thread. If you’re wondering if this is illegal, the short answer is no. But that doesn’t mean industry leaders haven’t attempted to discourage this practice.

The BTC Foundation provided an important statement about the propriety of registering BITCOIN as a stand-alone trademark and provided stats as of January 2015 on the number registered marks around the world. For those, it is too late to oppose. It seems the US Patent & Trademark Office, however, is requiring registrants to disclaim the use of “BITCOIN” separately from, say, a mark like MILLY BITCOIN.

As you can see there are a lot of really important and interesting IP issues to consider with blockchain technology. Let’s talk about it.

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About #YahooAMS

Yahoo Finance presents All Markets Summit: Crypto — the latest in our series of All Markets Summit events produced by Yahoo Finance. This all-day livestream event will take place on June 14, 2018 in San Francisco at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center. Yahoo AMS: Crypto examines the global investment appetite for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and endeavors to answer some of the biggest questions surrounding these assets.

  • Should individual investors have crypto in their portfolio?
  • Is it a legitimate investment?
  • Will regulators impose stricter federal oversight?

This is Yahoo Finance’s second live cryptocurrency summit this year. Yahoo AMS: Crypto brings together influential entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, policy makers, and legal experts. Limited live studio audience seating available.

Yahoo AMS is presented in conjunction with CoinDesk.

[AGENDA][REGISTER][LIVESTREAM]