IP + Blockchain = Geneva!

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Credit: WIPO

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My trip to Geneva has been marvelous. What a beautiful city with wonderful people here in the epicenter of global initiatives for diplomacy and business. I am fortunate to have visited here during the General Assemblies because there is so much going and so many thought-leaders from around the world in the city currently. Makes for rich opportunities to connect.

Yesterday, I participated in an invitation-only. roundtable discussion, hosted by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), on the issue of disruptive technologies and trade for sustainable development. I shared remarks about the impact of blockchain technology on IP and international trade. This was a wonderful next step after my remarks about international dispute resolution at the Blockchain Central conference held during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.

Today, I present at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Lunchtime Learning for over 150 WIPO lawyers and staff. I will give an overview of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology, cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. And then take a closer look at some of the copyright, patent and trademark issues and implications of blockchain.

Not many lawyers are actively practicing in this space, although the numbers are growing. It is still very early, even though the Bitcoin blockchain was first released in 2009. But there is a lot of new technology and use cases of interest to clients, organizations and policymakers. So lawyers need to be out ahead of these innovations and in a position to advise clients about how their businesses are going to be impacted. And how their businesses or governments might leverage the technology, if appropriate.

Lawyers do not necessarily need a technological background to have a robust practice in this space or achieve a depth of knowledge. I do not have a technological background, I’m just a (very cool and creative) nerd and life-long learner with a father who’s a doctor and a mother who’s a patent attorney. But for lawyers having some computer science or STEM background, or who commit to unpacking and truly understanding this technology, those lawyers will surely enrich their area of subject matter expertise and increase the value-add to servicing clients and, perhaps, using this technology to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Clients are either in an industry that will be disrupted or want to invest in those technologies or have to deal with their own customers’ questions about Blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart contracts. There is a hunger for information in order to, among other things, honor the 2030 SDG 9 regarding innovation and to figure out what this means for intellectual property now and in the future. And that’s where we as lawyers supply added value. That’s where we problem solve and, if we’re successful, where play a vital role in transforming the world.

 

#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]

On the road again … next stop, Lutie Lytle Workshop & Writing Retreat @ Dedman SMU Law

I’m honored to return to the annual Lutie Lytle Black Women Faculty Workshop & Writing Retreat, held this year at the SMU Dedman School of Law (Dallas, TX). Lytle was the first African-American female law professor in the U.S.

I am participating in two exciting panels:

  • Developing Your Brand and a “Side Hustle”
  • Blockchain Technology: Smart Contracts, Wallets, Mining and Cryptocurrencies

I will also do an incubator presentation of my latest WIP, Cryptokitties, Cryptography & Copyright. This paper will be published in the BYU Copyright and Trademark Symposium Issue of the American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal and also presented more formally at:

[Full Presentation Schedule | About Professor Evans]